With our 2023 Ordination-Graduation ceremony approaching, we are highlighting members of the graduating class. Click here to see all of the posts in this series.
Today we’re talking with Chaplaincy Graduate Leslie Klipstein.
1) With the ceremony approaching, what emotions are you feeling?
Honestly? Sad. I have so enjoyed everything about AJRCA. The pandemic shift to online was seamless and well-managed, but not the same as sharing real time and space together. I want another two years to make up for our exile in the Zoomiverse! And then more after that because this community of growth, connection, lively learning, dedicated struggle, and committed compassion is a unique and holy blessing. Of course, I am also excited for whatever is next, for the opportunities to expand my skills and myself, and to bring the values of AJRCA into the wider world. But I love this place and don’t want to leave.
2) What is one learning from your Academy experience that you will take with you after graduation?
I’ve always sought out thought partners, friends who like to argue and explore, people who will challenge me and are up for a challenge in return. What I didn’t know is that this kind of intellectual collaboration is the heart of Jewish learning: chevrutah. At AJRCA, a chevrutah partner can be anyone – peer, mentor, professor, board member, support staff, prospective students, alumni, community members attending events. AJRCA folks are committed to growth and learning; their own, mine, yours. I want to take that spirit with me wherever I go.
3) Is there anything you learned at AJRCA that truly surprised you?
I was not particularly surprised by what I learned – I knew there was much I did not know – but I was often surprised by how that learning changed me. Heart and head are more integrated, I am more open to others, and I’ve become a better person. I am also really excited that even with only two years of Hebrew I can recognize complexities and connections that enhance my experience of liturgy and text.
4) If you could go back in time and tell your pre-AJRCA self one thing, what would that be?
It took me several years to make the leap and do the thing. I’d remind myself of my favorite quote by Frederick Beuchner (in a riff on Rabbi Nachman of Bresov’s famous narrow bridge), who wrote: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” So, don’t be afraid! Listen to your heart and go where it leads. Also, take more Hebrew.