I'm leading Friday night services for the first time at our temple next week. First time anywhere for that matter. I've been practicing for weeks. It's not long, just about an hour, but about 1/2 of that is in Hebrew. Which isn't a language I'm fluent in. And it's chanted. Which also isn't a strong suit of mine. I'm afraid of making a mistake (but then, the cantor stumbled over a few words during the High Holy Day services last week and he's a professional.)
I'm afraid of what the critics in the congregation will say.
I'm afraid of singing (even if it is 'just' chanting) in front of an audience.
I'm nervous about the negative critiques I'll get (I'm not worried about positive critiques!) Or the negative critiques I'm imagining I'll get.
I'm just really, really, really, nervous about this.
Anything else I was planning to write about, just doesn't seem as big. This is big.
And the worse that can happen?
I walk out of services (won't happen)
Somebody (one or many) tell me I have a lousy singing voice (no kidding)
They point out the stumbles and mistakes I made (no kidding, I noticed them too)
I start crying during the Mourner's Kaddish I'll be saying for relatives that night (um, so? That's why I'm not leading that prayer)
And the best that can happen?
I get through the prayers perfectly (well, that IS the best that could happen)
I realize I have a good singing voice (I can dream, can't I?)
I get (and believe) all good compliments afterwards
I get through the prayers ok, with a few mistakes (that I may or may not notice)
My singing voice isn't the world's greatest, but I can hold a tune (at least long enough for the prayers)
I hear good compliments and people with bad ones talk out of earshot
I know I know the service. I know I can say the prayers. I can even sing them when I follow along with the recording I got from the Rabbi. I know I know this. Now I just have to convince my vocal cords and mouth to work together and prove it.
One of the prayers starts with "Adonai, sh'fatai tif'tach u'fee yagid t'hilateh'cha" (it's actually in Hebrew letters, but I don't know how to show Hebrew here) and translated* is "Lord, open my lips that my mouth may declare Your praise" or in other words, and more bluntly, "Lord, help me say the prayers!" maybe I just need to repeat that phrase a few times.
I'm feeling a bit calmer.
But I'll be glad when next Saturday's here.
*according to Siddur Hadash, (c) 2000