The Jewish High Holy Days are coming up fast.

I’m still debating whether I’ll be attending services in-person or via Zoom this year, because my family is all traveling to London for my nephew’s bar mitzvah in a few weeks, and staying healthy is my number one priority!

The synagogue I belong to now does a wonderful job of involving congregants in the service, but I confess, I miss the services at my former synagogue, where I was a very active lay leader.

In fact, that’s actually where I first learned to get comfortable “onstage,” as it were.

It was while leading one Rosh Hashanah service many years ago that I learned a valuable lesson that I think about often.


I was very nervous about messing up. After all, hundreds of people were watching my every move!

And sure enough, guess what happened? I messed up!

There’s a Hebrew prayer in the middle of the service that has two very different melodies, one that turns into a short, ballad-like song with lots of “la la las,” and one that turns into a long, rambunctious song with lots of Hebrew words.


We were coming back from a silent prayer, and I intended to sing the short version, but by accident I started singing the long version!

I realized right away what had happened, and had to make a split-second decision about what to do about it.

Should I keep singing, ruin the quiet vibe, and take up way too much time?


Should I stop singing, apologize, and make a big deal out of the fact that I screwed up?


What I decided to do was to be real and simply acknowledge the mistake.


In fact, I made a bit of a joke of it, with a wry comment: “Well, that wasn’t what I meant to do. Let’s try that again.”


My fear was that people would be appalled. I don’t know, maybe even walk out of the theater!

But of course, that didn’t happen.

People laughed. In a friendly way! I felt so much warmth directed towards me.

Acknowledging my humanity and imperfection didn’t turn people against me — quite the opposite: it drained all the tension out of the room and made people rally around me.


This was such a profound lesson for me — a diehard perfectionist for so much of my life! It was a great reminder that what people want from us is not perfection, but humanity. 


It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that your next presentation, the next time you’re at the front of the room, you have to be perfect.

What if, instead, you make your goal to be human?

You may just find yourself making better connections.

Give it at try, and let me know how it goes.

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