What's Your Calling? Webisode with Rabbi Jill Perlman (HUC-JIR/NY 2010)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What’s Your Calling? explores notions of “calling” from both religious and secular perspectives.  Through a growing series of interviews, videos and articles, What's Your Calling? pushes the notion of "calling" to explore all of the stuff that makes us human: our values, our passions, our doubts, and our hopes. 

In this What's Your Calling?  webisode, Rabbi Jill Perlman (HUC-JIR/NY 2010) gives her first sermon and talks about her decision to become a Rabbi after growing up in an interfaith household.  As Jill peruses her calling, she struggles with questions about acceptance and identity.

The webisode begins with a group discussion of intermarriage, conversion, and Jewish identity with Rabbi David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR.  He states, "Sociologists will tell you that identity is determined on at least three different levels.  One is, how does the individual view himself or herself?  Namely, if you were to meet someone, would they call themselves, in our instance, Jewish.  Do they view themselves that way?  Secondly, how does the community feel?  Finally, how do people outside the community look at someone?"

The webisode continues with a meeting with Jill's family.  "I was raised with a Jewish identity but I didn't have the education, the background, or the environment to back that up for myself, personally or emotionally," Jill explains.

As a rabbinical student, Jill leads services in the synagogue at HUC-JIR/New York.  "I enter the sanctuary to voice the longings of my heart in prayer.  We have placed the Torah in the center of the community as a reminder of what this endeavor is really about.  Torah has always been at the center of the lives of the Jewish people and as those who are training to be leaders of the Jewish people, we affirm that centrality every day."

Following her sermon, Jill meets with Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, Professor of Cantorial Arts at HUC-JIR/New York.  Jill explains, "The fear of freezing up in that moment is still with me as someone who is relatively, in the past few years, new to this.  The thing that I am trying to work on the most is being in the moment but I am always nervous about being a fake.  I don't want to come across as trying to be soulful and have people not really think that that was what was happening."  Cantor Schiller responds, "The more you're comfortable, the more you can be yourself.  Part of this is just being yourself."

"I think that there are so many different models of leadership out there and my approach is just a little bit different," Jill concludes.

Click here to view the webisode. 

Directed by Yoni Brook / Edited by Matt Lauterbach


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu