Cantor’s Column – April 2019

Song Leader Boot Camp – Let My People Go!

Cantor Ilan Davidson

Over Presidents’ Day weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in Rick Recht’s Song Leader Boot Camp (SLBC) in St. Louis, MO. As I was preparing to travel, many of you asked me what I hoped to experience at this conference. Of course, my answer was unwavering…”I’ll let you know when I return.” Now, some might think that’s a cop out, but the truth is, whenever we attend a conference, we should always go with an open mind to experience whatever may happen. For if we go with expectations, we may forget to notice something outside of our normal areas of interest.

While I was at SLBC, I was inspired, moved, educated, and re-Jew-venated. As I joined with 400 other Jewish music lovers, spanning ALL Jewish movements. I was opened up to Reform musicians, Renewal teachers, Conservative songwriters, and Modern Orthodox liturgists, gathering in song, in prayer, and in learning, but most importantly, gathering with an openness to each other that we so rarely experience. When we open our hearts to each person and close our eyes to what makes us different, there is an opportunity to grow, adopt, adapt, and become more aware of our peoplehood.

When Moses helped God to lead us out of Egypt, we were asked to do the same in the desert for 40 years. We were challenged to not dwell on our differences, but to open our hearts to God and the opportunity of building the Jewish community. Likewise, as we

talk about Jewish leadership at SLBC, we realize that when we open ourselves to trans-denominational conversation and expressions of our Judaism, it is like building our own Mishkan. As we know from Parashah T’rumah, God says that if we build it, God will come and dwell within us. That is what happens at SLBC.

As I joined with the other 400 participants, including, for the first time, a teen cohort of over 40 students, I realized that just as Moses asked, I want to say in the future…“Let my people go!” If you are a teen or an adult who loves Jewish music and is moved and inspired by it, let me encourage you to consider joining me in the future, as we continue to develop new and authentic expressions of our Judaism through music.