My rabbi offered me the chance to lead the congregation as shlicha tzibur for the yizkor (memorial) service on Yom Kippur. I prepared as much as possible, learning new melodies, practicing every day.
But when I stood on the bima in front of hundreds of people, my nerves got the best of me. Even with two friends holding the Torah scrolls standing on either side of me, the new tunes I had learned went completely out of my head and I don't really know what I sang. The rabbi moved us on to El Maleh Rachamim for the six million and I thought she meant another prayer which I hadn't learned. The moment of panic was visible to everyone in the congregation. Somehow things ended smoothly with the congregation joining me in singing Psalm 23.
I was prepared to be very emotional, this being the first Yom Kippur since my father died and yizkor being such an oportuinity to remember those we love who have died. Instead I was so shaky with nerves that I didn't need the tissue clutched in my hand. Again I have learned that leading the congregation does not necessarily make for a resonant emotional experience the entire time for the leader.
Many people complimented me afterwards, so I guess I pulled it off. I hope the rabbi will give me another opportunity to lead this service and redeem myself.