In a few weeks' time I will participate in leading a synagogue service for the first time. I'm doing this in honour of my ds's recent Bar Mitzvah.
I feel so nervous and stressed. It's not about standing in front of people - I love performing! But this isn't a performance. This is somehow more important than a performance. I feel a great responsibility to doing it properly. Not to performing well, but properly.
I don't know what 'properly' is. Sincerely? Modestly? Meaningfully?
I almost wish I could care less about the meaning and see it simply as a performance.
What you are doing isn't a performance although if you have performance experience it does help with voice projection. I've found that in leading services it is authenticity that is important. Be yourself and because this service is meaningful to you then all will be well as that will come across.
My top tip comes from years of leading services and that is always have what you are planning to say written down somewhere. Do not rely on your memory even for stuff you know really well. If you have your words printed on card then if your hands are shaking it is less obvious than if it were paper.
Will there be a chance to talk through what you're doing with a synagogue leader? You could go through what's involved and mention your worries. Be authentic and real and you'll do it with integrity and humanity. If not, then why did they ask you?!
Yes talk to the Rabbi. It may help to have a practice in the building so that you can find out what the acoustic is like. As a minister I have preached in a lots of different buildings and spending time getting the sound levels right helps with nerves. Remembering to breathe helps as well!