I have a rich and varied background that brings me to where I am today. As a child growing up in a Conservative Jewish community, I was mesmerized and transformed by the musical experience of singing in synagogue with my family. Our Jewish holiday celebrations and lifecycle events became the most special moments in my life.
Brought up in a musical home, I followed my passion to sing while growing up, however, never realized how I could combine my love for music with work that would inspire and transform me.
In 1987, I met and married the man I fell in love with, however, much to the chagrin of my family, he was not Jewish. I had no idea how I was going to raise a family, much less an Interfaith family, but I had faith that I knew would carry us through. As our family grew, so did our need for spiritual worship, and as a parent – a JEWISH parent, I felt drawn to the worship experience I grew up with.
I was immediately faced with the harsh reality that Interfaith couples and families are not welcomed with open arms by the traditional houses of worship that exist today. Sure, even the most liberal synagogues open their arms in terms of membership, but when asked to actually facilitate the lifecycle events of the Interfaith family – now THAT was a different story…
I raised my children in our Reform synagogue in Weston, Florida, and served as a faithful congregant for years. But over the years, I have found that almost 80% of South Florida’s Jewish community is unaffiliated, and therefore unable to participate in a Jewish communal experience. They have little or no access to warm, meaningful Jewish lifecycle events. One cannot be Jewish alone, and while many people believe that synagogue life is the best way to be part of a Jewish community, not everyone feels the same way, I hope to serve as a connection for unaffiliated families to their Jewish roots and community.
In 2004, I met Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, the founder of the All Faith Seminary in New York. Rabbi Gelberman is the most amazing man, almost 98 years old, and sharp as a tack. My friend, my mentor, and my inspiration, Jerry Cohn introduced me to Rabbi G. That day, having lunch, in a Chinese Restaurant in Tamarac, Florida, he asked me to chant Debbie Friedman’s “Mishebeirach”. That moment was the most transforming moment of my life, as he asked me to found a Cantorial program with his seminary, and of course, through years of study with him and his staff, I became the first student to achieve a Cantorial S’micha, through the New Seminary.
Now, remember – I am still and will always be a congregant in my own synagogue. My worship needs are completely fulfilled by the Jewish community I am part of. But today’s social environment has created challenges that the Jewish community is unable to provide solutions to. For whatever reasons, 80% of our Jewish population does not, nor will ever, belong to a synagogue. And because of that, it’s possible that unlimited future Jewish generations could be lost forever, unless someone works to help these families maintain their Jewish connection.
So in 2004, I chose to become – Your Personal Cantor. A spiritual leader, a coach, a singer, a cheerleader, and a teacher. All in one. Yes, I believe that to be Jewish, you must be part of a Jewish community, but as our society expands, so does that Jewish community, and if I help you connect to your Jewish roots, then the likelihood of your future connection remains strong. I am committed to helping families, couples, and individuals remain connected to Judaism, in any way possible.
Call me today to find out how I can help you.. B’Shalom. Debbi
Email: Debbi@mypersonalcantor.com or call 954-646-1326