Introduction by Briana Lavintman
On February 20, I along with nine fellow Ramahniks, checked in at Song Leader Boot Camp (SLBC) in St. Louis, Missouri. Song Leader Boot Camp is a three-day intensive program led by Rick Recht, Sheldon Low and Todd Herzog, all of whom are well-known Jewish musicians. Our group had the privilege of working with Sheldon alone on a daily basis. SLBC is a program that is dedicated to creating more Jewish song leaders in communities around the nation. At SLBC, in addition to singing nonstop, we learned techniques, strategies, lots of repertoire, and much more regarding song leading and how to go about leading successful song sessions. We discussed many ways in which we can implement what we learned at SLBC, in order to create new and successful Shirah sessions in our own community at Machaneh Ramah.
Reflections by Alex Krule
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once taught: "The primary purpose of prayer is to praise, to sing, to chant. Because the essence of prayer is a song, and man cannot live without a song." After attending the national Song Leader Boot Camp conference in St. Louis, I now look at Heschel's insight with a new understanding. From learning how to conduct an interactive and exciting shirah session to adding to my musical repertoire with my fellow Ramahniks, I felt the power of song empower a community from many backgrounds in an endeavor to see and spread the impact of song.
Coming from a background founded strongly in liturgy, I found this experience extremely insightful into other outlets and opportunities of praise. While I might find a certain blessing or prayer that articulates my response to the wonder in the world, there is something unique about communal shirah that I now find particularly engaging and spiritual not only after having gone to SLBC but also after five summers at Ramah Wisconsin. After attending this national conference I have a different, more in-depth comprehension of the power that shirah has on the spirituality of the kehilah, and I look forward to being able to share my lessons and understanding of the power of shirah with the rest of the machaneh this summer.