by Sue Horowitz
This November, I had the honor of debuting a song at Mayyim Hayyim‘s Tapestry: Choosing a Jewish Life event. The song, “Here I Am” was written for the ritual of conversion to Judaism. I am a singer-songwriter, frequently reinterpreting texts, psalms, prayers and Jewish ethics. I am lucky to have a writing partner in Rabbi Lev Ba’esh, who is a champion for the unaffiliated as well as for interfaith families. He has performed many conversions at Mayyim Hayyim. He is a spiritual leader who has a special gift of making everyone feel welcomed and valued. When Lev and I create music together, we try to create songs that are welcoming and inclusive. I began writing “Here I Am” as a story song about the Book of Ruth, a tale of loyalty and redemption. Instead, Lev suggested that I use the story as a jumping off point to write a song about welcoming people after a conversion, something that could be used at the mikveh or in a congregation. “Here I Am” is a conversation between the individual and the community. In it is the recognition that when one converts to Judaism, they come with their own family and history. And it is also the recognition that we welcome individuals into our community with joy, and acceptance.
The song starts with a declaration:
I come with joy, I come with hope, I come with vision and intention
I come with prayer, I come with love, with searching and sacred questions.
Hineini, here I am, I come with piece of mind
I know just where I stand- here I am.
I come with trust, I come with pride, I come with justice and with freedom
I come with history, I come with family, with knowledge and with wisdom.
Then, a paraphrased piece of text, from the Book Of Ruth:
Where you go, I will go. Where you lead, I will follow
Your people will be mine, and your God will be my God.
Finally, a response from the congregation, and acknowledgment:
We welcome you with open arms with joy and hope with prayer and love
We welcome you with trust and pride, with history and family.
Below, you will find the video from Mayyim Hayyim’s Tapestry event. Feel free to visit me for more music here.
Have a happy and a healthy new year!
Sue Horowitz is a Jewish singer-songwriter who lives in coastal Maine. She writes, highly singable and usable songs that are appropriate for synagogues, camps, and youth groups. Sue has performed at venues such as URJ Biennial, CAJE, and Limmud, as well as all over New England. Her music has been included in the Ruach music series, Songs for Jewish Head Start, and the new CCAR Hagaddah. Her first CD, Eleven Doors Open, was produced by Josh Nelson, and her second CD, In the Water, by Dan Nichols. Her engaging presence and spiritual music captivates worshipers and audiences of all ages.