By Sam Cogen, URJ GUCI Head Songleader
A thought has blown the marketplace away.
There is a song on the wind, and joy in the trees.
Shabbat has arrived in the world.
Scattering a song, in the silence of the night.
And eternity utters a day.
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Five simple lines from a poem, formed into a song, describe Shabbat at GUCI. We use this melody as a musical introduction into the Amidah. We put in all our pent-up emotion into this song and prayer, and it is truly one of the most magical moments here at GUCI. We begin our Shabbat by walking through camp, picking up Top Deck, then Avodah, followed by the Girl’s Area, and lastly, the Boy’s Area. We make our way to the Beit Tefillah, and we join in, and experience an extremely moving Shabbat evening service. From there, we make our way to our dining hall for dinner, followed by a Shabbat Shira; a Shabbat Song Session. It is a crazy explosion of Jewish joy, and each Shabbat, I am amazed at the energy and ruach that camp brings each Friday night. After approximately 30 minutes of singing high-intensity Jewish music, we transition into our slow, melodic section of the evening. It is some of the most beautiful singing I have heard, and one member of my songleading staff describes the moment as: “the sound of angels singing when the lights go out on Shabbat.” Personally, I cannot think of a better way to portray the sheer beauty of this moment. We end each Shabbat Shira with the Shecheheyanu, our prayer for special or new occasions. The last half of the song, we stop playing guitar, simply to give camp the opportunity to hear themselves sing, and the beautiful, rich, moments that they create. Shabbat is my favorite time of the week. To see the camp come together as a whole, and create an incredibly magical series of moments is a special thing to be a part of.