Mondays/Tuesdays in July

Posted on: Friday July 9, 2021

By Rabbi Cantor Hillary Chorny

Note: This blog post was featured as part of our #HeshbonHodesh: Av monthly newsletter. 

I’ve never doubted the generosity of spirit in my congregation when it comes to time off. This August, I will have been here seven years, and since day one I’ve had plenty of days and weeks off built into my contract. As of my upcoming contract, I will even earn a three month sabbatical in year ten, and that’s worthy of its own celebratory blog post or essay.

It’s also the case that I’ve never taken all my time off. I laugh each July as I recount the Shabbatot and weeks that I’ve left on the table, throwing out the many excuses I’m sure we all use: My family is local. My kids are young. How could I take off Shabbatot as the only cantor in a nearly 1,000 family community?

COVID has ravaged my energy and spirit, and it’s broken down any thin remaining boundaries between home and work as my house became a workplace itself. The beauty is that my congregation saw and understood that. The leadership also understood that we couldn’t simply close our doors for a month: we are an enormous operation, containing an early childhood center through 8th grade Schechter school and more. Inspired in part by Betsy Stone’s EJP article, our board stretched creatively to design a July of Heshbon Nefesh. We are looking forward to four day weekends, closing our entire office, and perhaps more importantly, our email inboxes, for Mondays and Tuesdays these four weeks. It is a true brit and a true break among us, and one that is made refreshing because it is an insistent gift and a consistent pact across all staff from maintenance to programming to clergy. We are in this together, and we will return together, renewed.

Rabbi Cantor Hillary Chorny completed her cantorial investiture, rabbinical ordination, and a Masterʼs degree in Sacred Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary before joining the staff of Temple Beth Am in August, 2014.