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Singing Together at Hava Nashira 2014

jordan_andersenGuest blogger: Jordan Andersen, a fifth-year staff member at Ramah Outdoor Adventure in Deckers, Colorado. She attends Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she has served as a news anchor for The Met Report, an Emmy-winning television broadcast produced for and by university students.

A very wise (and very fictional) old wizard named Dumbledore once said that music is “a magic beyond” anything he could ever hope to accomplish with a wand and an incantation. This magic will exist everyday this summer at Jewish camps across North America and it will be facilitated by staff members armed with guitars and a passion for music.

In the last week of May, I had the opportunity to sing with and learn from songleaders from Ramah and URJ Camps as part of the Ramah/URJ Songleaders Track at Hava Nashira. At its core, Hava Nashira is a gathering of people who love singing and sharing Jewish music. They come together once a year to learn new material and new techniques, and to make music together. The faculty of the conference is made up of artists like Josh Nelson, Craig Taubman and Ellen Dreskin. All are artists who have devoted themselves to Jewish music not only to share, but to be used to forge connections between people.

The Ramah/URJ Songleaders Track began a day earlier than the rest of the conference. The 50 of us in the intensive track used that extra day to begin learning and making music. In that first focused 24 hours, the ten Ramah songleaders devoted a large part of our time and energy to putting together a song session we would lead after a meal. We needed to determine an objective and then figure out how to accomplish it through a carefully crafted series of songs. We developed a song session that demonstrated a weekday Shacharit. It was amazing to experience how easy it was to join with staff from other Ramah camps and work so seamlessly in creating and executing our song session.

Ramah at Hava Nashira 2014

Ramah at Hava Nashira 2014

Hava Nashira began on Tuesday, and by Friday (an eternity in Camp Time), I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The music sessions were intense, the schedule tight, and the social situation incredibly daunting. And so, when Dan Nichols and Alan Goodis, the faculty for the intensive program, opened our last session by asking how we were, I answered honestly: I was overwhelmed.

As I was talking through my discomfort, I realized that something else had spawned from the time I had spent so out of my element. Each experience, uncomfortable and awkward in the moment, was an intense and beautiful moment of learning. I was going to bed each night realizing just how much I had absorbed from the immense talent and passion with which I was surrounded. Despite the discomfort, I was grateful.

That Friday night, I experienced the most spirited and inspired song session I had ever been exposed to. All 200 Hava Nashira participants joined together in singing and dancing led by the faculty. If music is magic, then the experience of so many people together in one place just to sing and harmonize together was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It can be easy to lament being back in the ‘real world’ after experiencing something so intense and spiritual. But rather than lamenting, I think that we’re all heading into our work at camp recharged and ready to create magic!

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1 Comment

  1. Milk

     /  June 13, 2014

    Yay! Hava Nashira is the BEST! I’m so glad we all got to participate from the URJ/Ramah Intensive! Have an amazing summer – and keep up the great work!


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