Stories from the Road

The Guitar in the Holy Land

Max Winer Voyage AirIf anyone claims to know me, then they would know one very important fact about me.  I almost never travel without a guitar.  To give a little background on me and my guitar (Rent reference), I started playing guitar in second grade under the tutelage of Jim Hurley.  Jim always insisted to my parents and grandparents that I should only practice when I wanted to practice.  Unfortunately, I did not practice very often.  When fourth grade rolled around, I started violin and mandolin and guitar took a backseat.  Bass came along later and guitar was still in the backseat.  Not until seventh grade did I start playing guitar frequently again.

Now if you ask any of my best friends, I am quite often inseparable from my guitar.  Since eighth grade, I have pursued the guitar much more heavily to become a better guitar player and a better songleader.  It used to be that my grandmother would be angry at me for not practicing.  I bet now she would tell me to put down the guitar and come to the dinner table.  Most teenagers cannot be without their phones for long periods of time, I hate being without my guitar.  

This change happened in part because of camp (This is where the Jewish part of this blog post comes in).  It used to be that I would go to camp and practice music for Shabbat Shira (big Shabbat dance party for those who do not know).  In Hagigah, I practiced guitar for my song leading major.  But during Hagigah, guitar started to take on a whole new meaning for me.  Guitar became a sort of coping mechanism for me.  When something did not go my way, I would play guitar and forget about my problems.  Just before going to camp for Hagigah, I took my guitar with me to Israel for my first trip to Israel.  It was certainly an experience to have my guitar with me, but it is nothing like the experience my guitar and I are having on this trip to Israel.

My guitar is still my coping mechanism for whenever things do not go well.  Sometimes I play my heart and soul out while playing my guitar.  It has come to the point where I can sit for hours at a time and just play my guitar.  At the Bedouin Tent,  I sat for twoish hours straight and played guitar.  There were other people there of course.  Reuben, Leana, Josh, Ben, Rocky, Jacob and Rachel (I apologise if I forgot anyone) sat listening to me play.  They were just there.  In my mind, it was just me and my guitar enjoying the warm night in the desert.  The week of Gadna I could not play my guitar and I will admit it was very hard.  After hurting my feet, I had no real way of coping because I could not play guitar and I could not practice my karate.  When I finally took my guitar out in Eilat, I was overjoyed.  

Quite a few people brought their guitars with them to Israel.  I would have no matter what, but I am very grateful to be playing my Voyage-Air Guitar.  (I promise this is not a sales pitch, just my thoughts about Voyage-Air guitar and how grateful I am to them for making this guitar.)  If my guitar could not fold, traveling with it would be so much harder.  I would not have been able to bring it with to me the Arava or the Negev.  I would not have been able to take it to Eilat either.  The portability of my guitar makes it so much easier to take it everywhere I need to take.  Next week the group flies to Poland.  It will be one of the most trying points in my life because of what we are going to see there.  I am very grateful that I will be able to bring my guitar with me, so I have it to be my support when I am feeling sad about what we are learning about in Poland.  

Back to Jewish part.  Part of the reason I pursued guitar more heavily is to be able to songlead.  I personally find a much deeper spiritual connection when I am pray when I play the guitar and am helping other people find their spiritual connection.  Music is one thing that has always helped me pray and I want to be able to help others through the power of music.  I know the song leading does not require a guitar, but it certainly helps and I am very grateful that I have been helped along by so many mentors in learning how to play the guitar.  Jim Hurley, all the song leaders at Camp Newman, Sarah Edelstein, Dan Nichols and of course my dad have all influenced me and pushed harder to become a better songleader than I was before and I am very grateful to them for that.  Song leading has become so important to me that I do not what I would do without it because it has become part of my Jewish identity.  Even though my Jewish identity has changed some during my stay in Israel so far and I know it will continue to evolve, I know that song leading and guitar will always be a part of my Jewish identity no matter what.

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