You Can Run But You Can't Hide!

I just returned from a family vacation in Costa Rica. What a beautiful country! Whenever I'm away from home I look forward to a level of anonymity. Though I enjoy being a rabbi, I like to know that I can just be me on vacation. I walk around with a baseball cap on my head instead of kippah and I try to avoid telling people what I do for a living! Imagine telling someone while on vacation that you're a dentist and then being asked to check a cavity! Or if you're a lawyer and being asked about wording in a will! There have been many times while I was away that once my cover was blown people asked me about God or the state of the Jewish community in America.

While being guided through a beautiful cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica - looking for howler monkeys and toucans! - someone in our group starting talking to me. As much as possible I tried to steer the conversation to him - where he's from, where he's been already in Costa Rica, etc. - but it was a long walk. Finally he asked me what I do and I couldn't hide anymore. Once I told him I am a rabbi it was as if I turned a switch. He told me his life story, leaving Vienna with his parents in 1938, up to his Jewish activity now. Though this was very interesting, the introverted side of me just wanted to be looking in the trees instead! He even asked if I were studying while on vacation!

Though it's fun to run into Jews in exotic places, and especially to hear Hebrew spoken (as we did in the Costa Rican mountains) it's not so fun to be in rabbi mode. Being away from the shul is important to help recharge my spiritual batteries. With all that goes on in shul life, it's important to step away for a little while. Though initially I bristle at having my cover blown I am - after a while - able to step back and laugh about it. How funny is it to be talking about Judaism while walking through a park in Costa Rica!