Va’ani Tefilati lecha Adonai eit ratzon
Elohim b’rov chasdecha, Aneini b’emet yish’echa
Mah tovu (x3) ohalecha ya’akov
Mah tovu (x3) mishkenotecha Yisrael
וַאֲנִי תְפִלָּתִי לְךָ יְהוָה עֵת רָצוֹן
אֱלֹקִים בְּרָב חַסְדֶּךָ עֲנֵנִי בֶּאֱמֶת יִשְׁעֶךָ
מַה טוֹבוּ אוֹהָלֶיךָ יַעָקׁב
מַה טוֹבוּ מִשְכְּנוֹתֶיךָ יִשְֹרָאֵל
AND I AM A PRAYER, TO YOU, HOLY ONE, IN MY TIME OF NEED
IN ALL YOUR GRACE, ANSWER ME
Melody by Yael Bettenhausen and Josh Warshawsky
I am a prayer.
I have spent the last eighteen summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Since 2010, I have been working to build a singing culture there, and sharing new melodies to bring the community together. In that work, I have tried to cultivate a cohort of musicians and singers to lead singing and music at camp. On the first day of camp in 2017, one of my former campers, Yael Bettenhausen, came up to me with a guitar in hand. It was the first day of her last summer as a camper. She asked me if she could show me something. She pulled out her guitar and played a melody for Ashrei that she had written. It was beautiful. I was so excited that she had been inspired to write Jewish music at camp, so we decided we would write a song together that summer.
The summer-long theme for her age group was “Mah Tovu Ohalecha,” How good are your tents,” Thinking about community and the concept of “home”. We chose to write a melody for these words from “Mah Tovu” as we discussed what it meant to come together at camp to pray. The words, “Va’ani Tefilati Lecha” can be loosely translated as, “And I am a prayer to You.” What does it mean for each one of us to literally BE a prayer? How can we serve as a source of hope, a source of gratitude, a source of love to ourselves and to those around us?