Dear CSS friends,
Singing comes easier to me than words, but this biography is meant to be read, not listened to-so here goes!
I grew up in a large Conservative synagogue in Milwaukee and my youth choir
experience opened me and connected me to my Judaism. Much later I would learn that I was opening to my personal Teshuvah (coming home to myself).
As a young wife and mother in 1989, I co-founded the first Reconstructionist synagogue
in Milwaukee and served as Cantorial Soloist for 26 years. I loved holding the space and drawing my congregants into our prayer. At the same time, I was building my physical therapy work into a full time private practice (Orlanu Therapies), specializing in serving children and adults with chronic challenges. While working these very different jobs, I became acutely aware that they were very alike! I found myself guiding my
patients to process and sometimes overcome their physical limitations by helping them
realize who they truly were. They were not just their bodies. Their rehabilitation required some spiritual work on their part and I found myself (with a lot of training that I continue today) creating the space for their important work. I continue to offer physical therapy
part time today.
In 2014, I decided to return to school for formal Cantorial training. I am sure that I chose Aleph: Alliance For Jewish Renewal because of my life’s experience. Aleph is transdenominational. The joy of Hasidism, the Havurah movement and the collective
wisdom of centuries of traditions inform Jewish Renewal. I honor and find meaning in all of these traditions.
My Cantorial curriculum included classical Ashkenazi nusach, (what Cantors typically chant in our synagogue), but the most significant training I experienced with Aleph was our Davvening Leadership Training Institute (required for all Aleph students-Rabbinical and Cantorial). We studied and learned how to design meaningful prayer services. This was life changing for me. We learned how to put ourselves in your shoes and learned how to engage people in a communal spiritual experience using kavannot (intentions),
prayer and sacred music. Experiencing a melody, a teaching, or a prayer is very different from listening to someone read, chant or speak. The service can became a
doorway into a sacred place where one can reconnect with themselves (Teshuvah), with community, and with G-d. With the right skills, I realized that this could happen every time we gathered. That’s when I truly fell in love with leading services.
I began truly appreciating the Rabbinical and Cantorial brilliance in our tradition. Every prayer service, every ritual, every holiday offers an opportunity for each of us to return home to who we truly are (Teshuvah); deepening our fundamental connection with a G-d who connects us all, and living more authentically which is at the heart of Jewish
I love learning, growing, evolving, and expanding as a Jewish person and let me be the first to say, I don’t have all the answers! G-d wrestling is at the heart of Judaism and I encourage you to wrestle with your beliefs, and ask me tough questions. I may not know the answers, but I’m happy to ponder, research, wrestle and reflect on any questions - from the simple to the challenging.
A couple of things you should know about me as a Cantor: I love variety and finding
new songs to share with my congregants - both in Hebrew and in English - but I also
have reverence for tradition. I laugh easily and cry even more easily! When singing a melody, doing a reading, or reciting a prayer, I may even be moved to tears. In the past, when those moments came, it used to embarrass me. But then a good friend shared with me that there’s no higher form of praying than a sincere teardrop rolling down one’s
cheek - so don’t be surprised if you notice that sometimes!
When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, gardening, and exercising. I live with my life-partner David and our two cats Yofi and Max. We enjoy visiting our children and our four grandchildren in Denver.
I look forward to meeting you and joining you on our spiritual journeys!