These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

A Chanting Journey from Mitzrayim to Tzion

Posted on January 5, 2013 by Annie Matan Gilbert

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From my blog:

This past week, I taught my first Peer Teaching lesson at Pardes.  It was a chanting workshop on the personal experience of Yetziat Mitzrayim.  Often, when I lead chanting workshops, I offer kavannot once the group is lost in the chant.  Words of yearning or blessing that float about the sounds of chanting voices.  (Chanting workshop resource sheets are available on my website.

These are the three that I prepared for the workshop.:

Theme 1: Mitzrayim – Calling out from the narrow place (read over Min Hametzar)

God, have You forgotten me?

I have forgotten how to breathe.

The air here is tight around me

Each day presses in and tomorrow feels impossibly far away

I long to feel Your wide, wide love

To feel hard earth beneath my cracked feet, shade on my bent back, cool mist on my sun-scorched skin

I long to hear sweet words

For respite from the sting that forces me into this pit and keeps me here

Day after day

God, though my voice is barely a broken whisper, I am calling out

In remembering


Please remember me

Remember my family

And our ancestors

Bring us home to You

Turn us back toward Your embrace

And fold us in

We have been lost so long

And now, we are ready

Find us

Remember us

At night we sing a secret song of breath and cooling shadows

By day we squint our eyes and hope that when we open them

You will be here, a hand on our brow

A breath of wind at our backs

We sing to You


Hear our song


Come and bring us home.

Theme 2: Yirah – Awe (read over Mi Chamocha)

Almighty God,

I have known fear and I have known comfort

And here, in this moment

My eyes are wide open

My heart is wide open

With each step, my heart pounds

And I can feel my lips stretching into a smile

The sounds of the sea are all around

And the sounds of children




You are here

And everywhere

Between me and this miracle

In my heart

In the winged ones above us

And in the spray of the sea that cools my face

This journey has been so long

I have been so tired

And I have been so afraid

But here, in this moment

Between the certainty of death and loss

And the wonder of an open way ahead that seems to go on forever

Between the sea and the sea

Here I am

And here You are

You are a gift

I can see with my feet on this muddy earth

With the tips of my fingers

Tracing wet lines through the walls of water that hold me in

Hold me up

Hold me close to You

You are here

Inside me

Pulling me to safety

To Your side

One mud-soaked step at a time.

Theme 3: Tzion – Reaching the Other Shore (Read over Shir Yaakov’s Bechol Makom)

Oh God

I am almost afraid to look over my shoulder

To see how far I’ve come

The expanse seems impossibly wide

And yet

Here I am


Singing Your Name

Surrounded by love and family

Breathing hope in and out

I raise my eyes to the horizon and it feels so close

I am giddy with relief

Your sea is calm now at our backs

The line of the brown rocks

From which we leapt

Only hours ago

Seems a distant memory

This moment is all joy and wonder

We sing and we sing

Circles within circles of men and women and children

All filled up with Your name

With Your praises

Our hearts are full

Our lives are Yours

We lift our eyes to You

And know we have arrived at the beginning

Of greatness

We have set our feet firmly on Your path

The one that leads straight to Your door

To our true home

To our destiny

To You and to us

Inside each other

Together in each moment

At last