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August 21, 2013 / Rabbi Laura

Elul, Learning to Learn

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. I’m always thirsty for learning.

Some years I’ve had the luxury to give myself the time for learning. Sadly, setting aside time for learning is framed as a “luxury.” It is something I feel guilty about. “I shouldn’t be sitting here reading when there is _________ to do.” Some years I succumb to the self-imposed sense of obligation to whatever that fill-in-the-blank thing is, going months without cracking open a book or exploring a new idea. Don’t we all?

As I reflect on 5773, as it is coming to a close, I am thankful for the varieties of learning I did. I am grateful for my teachers and the opportunities I’ve been afforded. This year I learned a lot.

I joined a study group of Jewish educators exploring the teachings of John Dewey and his definitions of experiential education.

I read 12 books I probably never would have selected but loved. My eyes were opened to the beauty of each book through the perspective and life experience of an amazing and diverse group of women whom I treasure learning with in our monthly book group meetings.

I learned – and am still learning – how to be a good mentor.

I learned how to spin. At my first spinning class the instructor asked me if I “spin.” “No,” I said, “I ride my bike outside.” Well, now I do both.


I learned how to ocean kayak. Thanks Deb! My sister is always one to challenge me to try new things. She’s always been the fearless twin.

I’ve learned to let go. To hold on. To jump in. To stand back. To speak up. To sit back and listen.

It feels really good to reflect on the year that has passed, to take account of what has been. That is part of my cheshbon nefesh.

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