Over ten years ago, I led High Holy Day services for the New Emanuel Minyan. It was the summer after I started college, and I had spent the entire summer preparing. I was so honored that Cantor Yonah Kliger considered me worthy of this opportunity. As I raised up my voice, I remember thinking, “Wow, I feel truly at home.” I didn’t feel nervous. It felt authentic and real. Although I continued to pursue my dream of “Broadway stardom,” this feeling of “home” didn’t repeat itself along that road. For the road to discovering that I wanted to be a Cantor had been well-paved. I had spent years in the Emanuel family choir. I was a junior cantor. I sang in Emanuel’s esteemed High Holy Day professional choir. The melodies of my Emanuel-infused childhood ran through my veins.
After a wonderful three years on the road in the Broadway National Tour of Disney’s High School Musical, I knew that it was time to return to the path of becoming a Cantor. With the encouragement of my mentor, Cantor Kliger, and the guidance from my voice coach and mentor, Cantor Perryne Anker, I began Cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion California.
These past years of graduate study have been filled with Jewish history, in-depth liturgical study, and exposure to wonderful Jewish music, both old and new! I know that the knowledge I have obtained and the mastery I have honed will serve me throughout my entire career. In addition to the academic study leading to my ordination as a Cantor, I have been learning what it means to “be” a Cantor, hands-on. For the first three years of study at AJRCA, I worked with another precious mentor of mine, Rabbi Stephen Einstein at Congregation B’nai Tzedek, as their student Cantor. I served this wonderful congregation with the full responsibility of a Cantor. Again, I found that the training, love, and support I received from Emanuel along the way prepared me to serve B’nai Tzedek.
In this final year of Cantorial School, I have had the privilege to serve Temple Emanuel as your Student Cantor. The invitation to do so, and the experience itself, has been, and continues to feel as if, this path was divinely inspired. I am so very humbled each and every day as I walk through these doors. Whether tutoring B’nai Mitzvah students, leading Shabbat Morning @Emanuel services or sitting alongside Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, Rabbi Sarah Bassin and Cantor Yonah Kliger at the Simply Shabbat, Shabbat Spark, and the Roven Family Shabbat Unplugged services, I never cease to appreciate it all.
With just about two months until my ordination, I have been busy planning my Master’s recital, which is being hosted by Temple Emanuel. I have been overwhelmed by the support of my Emanuel Community and Jewish Professionals in Los Angeles. Along with presenting many melodies composed over the last 75 years, I will have the privilege of debuting three new musical pieces by Julie Silver, Cantor Marsha Attie, and Daniel Leanse. I cannot wait to share the bima with these three professionals and friends. My concert, entitled “The Music of Heaven,” seeks to present music that illuminates the mystical vision of the presence of angels in heaven and the ability for the gates of heaven to open to each one of us through song. Not only will I be in the company of the above-mentioned wonderful composers, I also cannot wait to perform with a wonderful choir and soloists from the AJRCA. I am also thrilled to be performing with our very own Cantor Kliger and our mentor Cantor Perryne Anker. And, of course, no concert would be complete without a musical number performed with my triplet siblings, soon to be Cantor Sara Hass and Ryan Weiss.
I hope to see many of the members of this wonderful community at this concert and I can’t wait to introduce my AJRCA community to the “Magic” of Temple Emanuel!