Can I tell you how much I love it when a visitor to the synagogue sees my open office door next to Rabbi Shulman’s office and assumes that I am his secretary? It happened again just this morning and it still cracks me up every time. In fact many years ago I went to visit a patient at Hopkins and at the end of a lovely visit the woman said, “Please thank Rabbi Zaiman for sending his secretary to come see me.” The (female) doctor at the nurses station heard me laughing and asked what was so funny. I told her and she rolled her eyes, “Happens to me all the time,” she said.
After graduating college, I started my adult working life as the assistant to two (male) rabbis. I had the open office door next to theirs and spent my days answering the phones, typing the letters, greeting the visitors, and filing. Not once in three years did anyone mistake me for one of the rabbis. It was actually a job I really liked, and in some measure led me to the rabbinate. Working along side rabbis gave me a glimpse into what rabbis did all day, and I was intrigued. They nurtured that interest, and when the time came sent me off to rabbinical school and had me hire my replacement.
These days very few people I meet are surprised that I would be a rabbi. Even in Baltimore it doesn’t turn heads the way I imagine it once did. So when someone asks me to please let the rabbi know they are here for their appointment, it doesn’t bother me, and I’m always happy to begin Monday morning with a chuckle.