The Power of Hineni

By Laura Rumpf, Jewish Programmer


Ode to showering, water streaming onto my body, soap cleansing both body and soul…a prayer for the giggle of friends in the cabin that wake me before the breakfast bell sounds.


This week during Ruach Hour Tawonga campers have been exploring their own personal prayer voices, spiritual wisdom and creativity in a way that has my heart singing.


In keeping with this summer’s Jewish theme of Hineni (presence) we discussed prayer as a way to bring one’s whole-self into the present moment, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary. At Tawonga there are opportunities to find blessings and “wow” moments in the truly awesome experiences like mountain summiting and shooting star sightings, as well as in the delightfully mundane moments like when I’m brushing my teeth in my cabin listening to the stellar jays greet the morning.


Sometimes my prayers at Tawonga take the form of a traditional Hebrew chant or a meditative moment shared with friends in the garden. Sometimes they are the simple songs made up in unselfconscious joy with a bunk of campers. Tawonga truly nurtures all sacred expression in a way that’s liberating for the most novice or experienced, the most devout believer and the most avid wrestler with faith.


Whatever you believe, prayer acts as an authentic and accessible call to attention, an antidote to apathy when life’s routine lulls us into autopilot. Hearing the blessings created by campers for the ways their worlds are rocked by Tawonga calls me like a heralding trumpet into the here and now.


I am leaving my short time at Camp filled with inspiration for the ways that each camper’s curiosity has sparked me to notice more and say Hineni in creative ways, being present for the simple wonders of life. The challenge for myself, and for all of us ending a beautiful summer season so soon, is how to stay awake to Hineni moments when we come down from the mountain.


Enjoy photos from this morning’s Torah Service at Makom Shalom or “Place of Peace,” as well as other pictures from the day.