a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

One Mitzvah at a Time: Morning Prayers

Posted on: May 31, 2013

מוֹדֶה (מוֹדָה) אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ

I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

The first time I experienced an Avodat Lev service I was overwhelmed and embarrassed by the power of it. It was my second day of work and we were on staff retreat (yes, my first day was staff retreat). I’d only met my colleagues a few hours before and here we were on a cold autumn morning with sleep in our eyes freezing in a yurt in the Connecticut Berkshires.

One of my colleagues, an Adamah alum, started strumming her guitar, humming the melody of Modah Ani. Within a few moments a few other voices joined with hers and the whole staff sang/prayed quietly. Some of the men wore teffiilin and tallit and many swayed either to keep warm or in prayer as we sat in a circle on the cold wooden floor. We continued through the service, singing, repeating, reciting the prayers in rounds and layers of harmony before an hour had passed and we’d finished the morning prayer service.

A few months later at our fall bike ride I was once more transported in prayer by Avodat Lev. This time, the spirit was louder, more raucous, more spirited as Adamaniks stood up to dance, clap, shout and sing in loud voices encouraging the rest of us to join them in their joyful prayers to Gd. Never much of a prayer dancer, I sat and watched-my heart full.

Since then I’ve been trying rather unsuccessfully to bring the spirit of Avodat Lev into my Brooklyn home, but juggling the hectic NYC schedules of New York Jews, not to mention my recent ambivalence has made this task a bit harder than I expected.

Instead, every morning I turn on my iPod, find the Siddur saved in my phone and pray/sing along with the CD, reading the Hebrew as I go.

I’d say that week one of One Mitzvah at a Time has been a success. Next up, meal brachot (for real this time).

 

If you’d like to spend some time at Adamah at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center as a farmer, I give you this amazing, uplifting and inspirational video about the Adamah experience.

2 Responses to "One Mitzvah at a Time: Morning Prayers"

I still remember my first experiences of that kind of morning prayer — more than ten years ago, in one of those same round yurts, back when Elat Chayyim was housed in Accord, NY instead of at Isabella Freedman. It opened my heart and awed me and moved me beyond words. What a gift. <3

There will be a lot of that kind of amazing prayer at the ALEPH Kallah this summer in Rindge, NH. I can't wait.

It’s so, incredibly wonderful for the spirit. Did you read the Tablet piece about Joey Weisenberg?

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