Alumni Thank You, Modeh Ani
is a labor of love for Hebrew College alumna
For decades, I’ve been writing as a labor of love. Writing, for me, is a combination of prayer making, deep listening, and soul surfacing. Writing is a way that I teach and a way that I integrate my own understanding and practice.
While studying at Hebrew College Rabbinical School, I was blessed to learn from not only deep and wise professors and rabbis, but from teachers who showed me that community is at the heart of learning—that relationships and connections make it possible and nourishing to learn and to share. Since being ordained in 2009, I have wanted to stay in touch with people who I have had the opportunity to “rabbi.” So in 2013, I launched my own consulting practice, thisisRAS.com, an online space to continue to witness, walk, and worship with those I met along my Jewish path, as well as to connect to those for whom my Torah resonates.
Cultivating these connections is at the heart of thisisRAS.com. I believe that people crave tools, rituals, and practices that they can bring into their homes to build their own Jewish library full of books, as well as beauty and inspiration to nurture their own ongoing conversation with the Divine.
Now one of my passion projects—one of these Jewish tools—is being printed. My first book, Thank You, Modeh Ani, will be published in October by Behrman House’s Apples & Honey Print. The book will also be published by PJ Library, which in February will send it to 25,000 Jewish homes across the country. Giant thanks to the faith and friendship of publisher David Behrman and the skills and listening of my editor Dena Neusner.
Thank You, Modeh Ani weaves together the Jewish morning blessings of modeh ani, gratitude for a fresh new day, and asher yatzar, prayers of awe and appreciation for our body’s intricate openings and closings. The book is filled with gorgeous textured art by Bryony Clarkson and words that make us want to move.
Embodied spiritual practice gets our heart beating, deepens our breathing, and grounds us in the physical, all ways to root ourselves in the present moment. While the primary audience for this book are our youngest spiritual seekers, the text invites us all into a conversation with ourselves and with the Divine focused on the blessing of being alive, in our physical bodies, for a new day of play.
I’m passionate about Judaism as a vibrant wisdom tradition and technology of making meaning. To me, spirituality consists of asking questions that matter, and then living courageously in line with what we hear. Poetry is to me the essence of writing, painting an entire landscape with the most sparse yet illuminating strokes. I see prayer as our attempt to speak G-d’s language and poetry as a bridge between us and G-d. So, putting all this together, my poem Thank You, Modeh Ani was born!
Rabbi Alyson Solomon is a proud alumna of Hebrew College Rabbinical School in 2009 and currently serves as the rabbi educator at Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Oregon. Thank You, Modeh Ani received an author’s incentive award from PJ Library and her second book has been invited for publication by Behrman House. Connect with her at thisisRAS.com.
Interested in becoming a rabbi or cantor? Register for Ta Sh’ma (Come & hear), Hebrew College’s Open House for prospective rabbinical and cantorial students on Nov. 7 (virtual) or Nov. 15 (in-person).