Shira Taylor Gura | Ramah Poconos
Shira Taylor Gura is a proud Ramah Poconos alumna. Upon graduating from Rutgers University, she traveled to Israel to work for Ramah Israel as a madricha on the T.R.Y. program and continued working for Ramah Israel Programs for two years. She eventually made aliyah with her husband and 4 children to Kibbutz Hannaton in 2009 and is continuing the Ramah tradition by flying her children to Ramah Poconos each summer. She is the author of the book Getting unSTUCK (winner of the 2017 International Book Award contest), host of the Getting unSTUCK podcast, and a well-being coach offering workshops and retreats around the world to help people get unstuck from emotionally challenging situations. She is now on a crowdfunding mission to help bring gentle Hebrew music for yoga, meditation, and prayer to the world.
My passion for Hebrew started at camp Ramah. Though I was given a Hebrew name at birth (Shira), my parents do not speak Hebrew and I only was exposed to conversational Hebrew for the first time as a camper at Ramah. I immediately fell in love with the language, which eventually led me to study Hebrew on a more advanced level at Rutgers University until I became fluent in Hebrew both in the written and spoken form.
In addition to my passion for Hebrew, I fell in love with yoga when I began studying for my master’s degree in occupational therapy at Boston University. I found that yoga provided me a sense of inner peace in the tumultuous world in which we live. I chose to become a certified yoga instructor so that I could bring that experience to more people in my life.
For nearly 20 years I have been teaching yoga to mostly Jewish people, young and old, in the United States and Israel. Yet, it has bothered me that all the music I have been playing while teaching my yoga classes has been in Sanskrit, a language from India; a language I don’t speak, and a language totally foreign to my students. While this music is beautiful, I’ve always wanted to teach my classes, especially now living in Israel, with gentle Hebrew music. Yet, I was never able to find what I was looking for.
I have been dreaming about this for years. Passionate about music, meditation, and Hebrew, and as the founder and singer/songwriter of the musical ensemble, HannaTONES, I have come to realize that there was no reason that I shouldn’t be the person to bring this creation to the world.
And so, I decided to create the album, Day and Night, to provide a unique and powerful opportunity for any Jewish person seeking more spirituality, connection, and meaning in his or her life. Depending on your mood or the time of day, you can choose to listen to the “Morning”, “Noon”, or “Evening” track and immediately feel the words touch your heart and enter your soul.
Each track is comprised of three Hebrew mantras that are based on the three central sections of the Amidah, the core of every Jewish prayer service. These include: Modeh/Modah Ani (for Gratitude), Halleluyah (for Praise), and Ahna (for Request) providing a meaningful approach to converse with God as well as a satisfying and enriching sense of completeness in voicing your personal prayer. The mantras are simple – making the music accessible even to those people who are less familiar with the Hebrew language.
I am currently crowdfunding to ensure this CD can come into the world and I would greatly appreciate support from any Ramahnik, young or old, who would like to bring this spiritual experience into their lives. Please consider visiting my campaign page.