I spent a lovely weekend at Camp Ramah at the National Havurah Committee's New England Retreat.
It was sweet to spend the weekend with people who are passionate about their Judaism. Everyone who comes to a weekend retreat like this one is invested in Jewish life and practice, and there's something restorative about being surrounded by others who care about some of the same things that matter so deeply to me.
It was fun both to reconnect with some of my ALEPH hevre (including Rabbi David Seidenberg of NeoHasid, Rabbi Cherina Eisenberg, and rabbinical student Carl Woolf) and to meet other NHC regulars, many of whom were unfamiliar with ALEPH and Jewish Renewal. It's fun to get to be an ALEPH ambassador and to answer questions about who we are and what we do. It was fun to share poems on Saturday night, to teach a psalm-writing workshop on Sunday morning, and to co-lead davenen (prayer) on Sunday with Rabbi David, too.
We planned Sunday morning davenen with the intention of sharing Jewish Renewal spiritual technologies: some favorite melodies and chants, attentiveness to transitions between weekday nusach (the melodic system standard for weekday prayer) and melodies, bilingual davenen, freeform English prayer on the themes of the classical Hebrew (especially for the bakashot, the "requests" at the heart of the weekday amidah), imagery and meditation, and more. I think our offering was well-received, and it was sweet for me to get to ring in the new week with this kind of davenen b'tzibbur (prayer in community.)
Deep thanks to Mark and Steve for inviting us to be present, to teach and to learn, and to enjoy a beautiful snowy weekend in the woods outside of Palmer!