My training as a Cantorial Soloist began as a young girl, when I would sit in the musician’s balcony at High Holiday services listening to the choir sing as my dad played Kol Nidre on his cello. As a child, I attended a Jewish day school, where half of our subjects were in Hebrew and half in English. I studied ancient Aramaic Torah commentary, memorized the morning service chants and songs and learned folk dances from Israel. In college, I studied even more Hebrew and spent 7 months in Israel on an exchange program.
I never intended to become a “professional Jew,” but in so many ways, being a Cantorial Soloist has been a perfect fit for me. Alongside my studies of Hebrew language and Jewish spirituality, I had been studying classical voice and acting with the intention of becoming a professional actor. Well, as usual, life had other plans. When I turned 24, I started playing guitar and was quickly “drafted” by a synagogue to be a song leader for their religious school. Those early days of song leading were my training grounds in facilitating musical experiences for congregations. Three years later, I was drafted again, this time by a synagogue in California, to be their Cantorial Soloist for their adult High Holidays services. When I sang the Kol Nidre, the same piece I watched my dad play so many times as a child, I held back the tears as I knew I had finally stepped into my calling.
Today I sing, play guitar and curate the music for services with Tzedek Chicago, a social-justice based Jewish community led by Rabbi Brant Rosen in Chicago. Our musical identity is rooted in culturally diverse music from throughout the history of the Jewish diaspora. As such, I focus on music written by women and minorities, with awareness to the history and context surrounding my song selections. We also include a number of my original songs in our services, as well as originals by our violinist, Steve Gibons, and our resident musical activist (and my cousin) Adam Gottleib.
Below you can watch selected videos of my work as a Cantorial Soloist, both solo and with an ensemble, both originals and adaptations of existing compositions.