Jennifer Gubitz, HUC-JIR Rabbinical Student, Brooklyn, NY
We sit side by side, staring up at the power point screen, the newest innovation in summer camp songleading. It's a hot summer evening in Warwick, New York, and yet she wears jeans and a long sleeved shirt, sweating maybe, but looking calm and cooled by, I can only guess, the youthful voices around us. A throat lozenge is, naturally, protruding slightly from her cheek. You can't see it, but the Perrier is there, too, somewhere within reach.
My hands are pressed tightly against the frets of my guitar. In one hand she holds a pick; the other hand calmly rests on her leg. In all other photos that follow, I play and she sits next to me.
"Want to start the next song, Debbie?"
"No, no. It's okay. You start. I'll play back up," she says warmly.
I don't think she played much that evening. Rather most of the time, she just sat next to me, Singing quietly, sensitively, and supportively.
Did I ever tell her that her music served as the soundtrack of my Jewish experience? Singing Unto God on repeat at the top of our lungs, Lechi Lach accompanying us on so many journeys, feeling safe with the sense of angels by our side, ensured that Hey always came after Dalet and Gimel, and relieved and glad that I was not a turkey on this Thanksgiving day, and passionate that I was to see visions, and comforted with a sense of renewing my body and spirit in the most difficult of times.
And that summer, as I found my voice, we sat side by side, in that sweltering summer heat, Debbie and me, and all that I never told her, I sense that she knew.