“Turn ordinary moments holy.”
Rabbi Anat Moskowitz serves at Congregation B’nai Torah in the Denver area and works as a high school teacher at the Denver Campus for Jewish Education. She is an Adjunct Professor of Religion at Colorado College, and served as the school’s first rabbi chaplain. She was senior rabbi for Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs, Colorado for five years and served as rabbi for the United States Air Force Academy for a year while the academy rabbi was deployed. Prior to moving to Colorado, she lived in Los Angeles where she was an assistant rabbi, a middle school principal, and day school rabbi. She also worked as a chaplain for Beit Teshuvah, a facility for Jews in recovery from addictions and for Nechama, a Jewish agency serving the AIDS community. Before her rabbinic journey, Rabbi Moskowitz was a third grade teacher for ten years and a Disneyland foreign language tour guide. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University Long Beach and her master’s degrees in Hebrew letters and rabbinic studies, California teacher credentials, and rabbinic ordination from the University of Judaism. She volunteers as a prison chaplain.
Q. Who are your mentors? What have you learned from them?
A. Amanda, my former pupil, was one of them. Two years into rabbinical school, I came home frustrated, threw down my holy books, and decided to drop out. I ordered a non-kosher pizza for delivery and zoned out watching Friends. The phone rang. It was Amanda. She said, “We studied Jacob’s ladder today and I was thinking about how you are going to be the ladder helping people reach heaven when they are low and come back down again when they need grounding.” Needless to say, I stayed in rabbinical school.
Q. How do you balance planning with remaining open to opportunity?
A. Jews have a saying, “Man plans and God laughs.” For example, cancer changed my plans for a year—so much so that it was questionable whether I’d feel well enough to attend my stepdaughter’s wedding. Fortunately, I did. Whatever happens, I believe it’s my life purpose to make each moment holy. The concept of making the mundane holy is central to Judaism. It’s why we have blessings for everything—the mountains, the rain, etc. So, I plan my time, but when God throws a better opportunity, I take it.
Q. If you had thirty seconds with someone in an elevator, what three things would you tell the person to do to be joyful, peaceful, and whole?
A. Do something for somebody else, even if you don’t feel like it. Being someone’s “footprints in the sand” may illuminate your path and, even if it doesn’t, at least you will have done something good. A woman came to me for two years wanting to commit suicide. I told her, “If you want to die, go volunteer in Israel or Thailand.” She replied, “But, Rabbi, that’s dangerous!” So I challenged her. “You don’t really want to die. Go do something outside yourself.” The oys and joys of life are not always about us.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.