Reflections on my career as a cantorial soloist:
I was moved to tears the first time that I heard my teacher, Polish Holocaust survivor Ray Kantor z"l,
daven during the Yamim Noraim two decades ago. Within a few years, he was teaching me his
melodies personally. I joined him on the bimah during High Holiday services, sharing the
energetic burden as he pushed himself through the power of prayer, against exhaustion.
And then, he beamed at me from off the bimah when diabetes made Yom Kippur too difficult.
I was honored to stand in his place while he kvelled from the congregation during the next few years.
Recordings of his services are now archived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, yet
his voice and melodies also resonate in me with congregations around the world.
A therapist by training, I am deeply attuned to the way that familiar melodies comfort us, just as regal ones leave us in awe—breathing life into services in ways that address emotional and spiritual needs that feel somehow particularly accessible during the High Holidays.
When I join communities as a guest cantorial soloist, I collaborate with rabbinic and congregational leaders to provide an experience that will be meaningful to the community. Whether by interweaving Carlebach niggunim (wordless melodies), congregational favorites, folk music, or highly classical versions that I sing with congregational choirs—my purpose is to enhance an embodied sense of connection to the restorative power of tradition available in community.
The most meaningful feedback I receive? People expressing gratitude for a sense of direct access to the meaning of the prayers, felt as they are carried by the melody in their own deep experience of kavannah. I get that from young and old, alike, and it's pure joy to hear.
Listen to Days of Awe liturgical recordings by Rabbi Arielle
Hashkiveinu (as learned from Ray Kantor)
Listen to Days of Awe recordings that Rabbi Arielle made with Kol Soul, a high-holiday quartet of lay musicians at her former shul, to help congregants learn melodies for upcoming services