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  • Writer's pictureSara Zober

Part-Time Work is Possible

As I've been winding down and getting ready for Shabbat, I realized something. This week, for the first time in a very, very long time (well over a year), I got done everything I set out to get done this week. It was before noon on Friday and my list was done except for a couple of things I had to do in the afternoon.

I actually sat back and wondered what I could get ahead on before thinking to myself this is bonkers. Go out and catch up on your weeding on this gorgeous day instead. I had just read this Vox article about unhealthy work habits, and here I was doing exactly that. So I grabbed my gardening gloves and my dandelion digger and headed out to the yard.

As I was pulling weeds in the sun, I thought to myself Why does this week feel so different? I tried to remember all the things I'd done, and stumbled on the thought that I actually felt like a part-time rabbi for the first time since I could remember. We have a 1.25 contract between the two of us, and although we take 2 days off while most rabbis take one, we often both end up working full-time on the rest of our on-days.

But why was I able to work part-time this week and not previous weeks? It was my version of "mah nishtanah halailah hazeh/why is this night different from all other nights?" As I reflected on the ways this week was not a "normal" week, it hit me.

I did mostly just my rabbi job this week.

Most weeks, I do the following jobs in addition to all my rabbinic work:

  • sub in for bar/bat mitzvah tutors

  • teach religious school

  • practice Torah to be chanted at services

  • post Hebrew homework for my Hebrew students

  • Zoom meetings to advise about Board or committee initiatives

  • data entry

  • payroll

  • newsletter copyediting

For the first time in a long time, I got to focus on running services, rehearsing with b'nai mitzvah families, calling congregants to check up on them, making sure my teacher for religious school has all the equipment he needs for Sunday, writing, and putting together a really cool Shavuot program (all are welcome). It was delightful. Yes, I made 3 PPT presentations even though I'm the most expensive person the shul could hire to do that job. I also did some minor copyediting and data entry, but since it was just a few things rather than my entire portfolio, it didn't suck the joy out of the tasks I was able to accomplish, nor did it prevent me from doing my rabbinic work.

In light of my last post, I think it's even more important to start looking at our institutions and seeing what we can do to rebalance our collective workloads. Because this week, I got a week that was manageable, and it felt like a gift when what it should feel is normal.

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