Cantor Weiss in Ramat HaNegev: A Solidarity Mission

Cantor Lizzie Weiss

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Well, here I am. Finally this journey begins. I’ve been on the plane for about nine hours with just about four hours to go. As you can imagine, there have been a lot of details and logistics going into planning this trip. Luckily, I’ve only had to worry about having the right wardrobe and learning my music.

Cantor Weiss, Cantor Hutchings, and Cantor Cotlar at LAX airport

Cantor Weiss, Cantor Hutchings, and Cantor Cotler at LAX

I am blessed to be included in this wonderful benefit concert produced by my best friend Cantor Jessica Hutchings of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson, NV. She asked me and our good friend Cantor Kyle Cotler to join her in creating a concert for and to raise money in support of the Ramat HaNegev region of Israel, which has been responsible for housing many of the displaced Israelis who have had to evacuate their homes close to the border. Our goal has been to bring light and support from the states.



We are so thrilled that Rabbi Cantor Shani Ben Or and Boaz Doort of the Nigunim Ensemble agreed to join us to help host the concert and, most importantly, bring their gorgeous music and Hebrew skills to the stage! I can’t wait to share photos and videos of the concert next week!

After the concert, we will meet our colleagues back in Tel Aviv where our American Conference of Cantors Mission to Israel will begin! This trip was originally created to be a rich and fulfilling arts and culture retreat for cantors. But as you can imagine, it had to be tweaked and all logistics had to be reworked after October 7. I have so much gratitude to the planning team who had to keep pivoting to make this trip happen.

I’ve had many people in my life share that they’re very concerned about me traveling to Israel. But there is something very comforting about going to a place where we can be openly and authentically Jewish. I don’t think I would ever have thought that I would need to say this in my lifetime, however, after what happened in the Pico-Robertson area just a few days ago, I do believe I will feel more proud and open to be Jewish in Israel than I can in Los Angeles right now. As my friend Jessica says, being a proud Jew is the purpose of having a Jewish State of  Israel in the first place. Of course, I recognize the irony of declaring this when Israel is in a state of war. But I look forward to feeling the unity of the people of Israel on the land they have cultivated and cherished for 75 years.


As my friend Jessica says, being a proud Jew is the purpose of having a Jewish State of  Israel in the first place.

Cantor Weiss smiling in Tel Aviv

Cantor Weiss in Tel Aviv


For now, those are my thoughts. Of course, I hope that I brought the proper clothes. When on a professional trip, you can’t wear what you really want to wear in hot Israel, which is just shorts and a T-shirt! After all, we are representing all of North America and further exposing the magical career of cantor! But with my clothes packed and hopefully everything I need, I look forward to checking in with you all after I get settled in Tel Aviv. I am excited to take 36 hours to acclimate to the time before we head down to the south for the concert! See you from the Mediterranean! ‘


Monday, July 1

Today, we had the honor of learning more about the Ramat HaNegev region of Israel. Part of our education included bearing witness to the stories of two remarkable women and their experiences on October 7. 

Yael, a resident of Kibbutz Revivim, exemplifies the extraordinary efforts of those who provided shelter for thousands of IDF soldiers and refugees immediately after October 7. She also played a crucial role in the burial and organization of 27 Kibbutz Be’eri residents who tragically lost their lives, temporarily laid to rest at Kibbutz Revivim.

We also had the privilege of hearing from B’uria, a resilient woman from Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. Despite numerous challenges, including surviving with her four children and three dogs, her recounting of those events was profoundly poignant. For nearly three months, they resided in a hotel in Eilat, until finally relocating with 47 out of 60 families to Ashalim from their kibbutz. They steadfastly hold onto the hope of returning to their cherished home, though uncertainties about the future of their community persist.

We extend our gratitude to Orna from the Mayor’s office for guiding us through this enlightening journey. In addition to these experiences, we gained insights into the origins of Ramat HaNegev from an agricultural standpoint, witnessing first-hand where the pioneers tested the boundaries of survival in the desert.

They steadfastly hold onto the hope of returning to their cherished home, though uncertainties about the future of their community persist.

The day concluded at David Ben-Gurion’s grave, where Orna explained Ben-Gurion’s belief that the hot desert represented the heart of the Jewish people. We posed for photos with smiles on our faces, but those smiles were preceded by the heartfelt hugs exchanged with these courageous individuals. When I told Yael that I thought her dog tag necklace was so unique and moving, she took it off her neck and gave it to me. There she was, giving again from her heart. 

Wednesday, July 3

Kolot Hamidbar: Voices of the Desert, a concert to benefit the Ramat HaNegev Region, was a meaningful, beautiful, and musical success! Held on the picturesque lawn of Kibbutz Sde Boker, where Ben- Gurion lived and is buried, the event provided a gorgeous opportunity to share our music, spirits, and support with a wonderful group of Israelis who, as they remarked, “don’t ever get concerts like this here!”

Watch an excerpt of concert rehearsals here:

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to make this concert and the donations to the region possible. Special gratitude goes to Cantor Jessica Hutchings for organizing the event, and to our colleagues Cantor Kyle Cotler, Cantor Rabbi Shani Ben Or, and Boaz and Yoel Dorot for crafting a uniquely enjoyable and creative experience.

Next, I’m embarking on a solidarity mission with 60 other cantors for the week ahead!