I read with interest the June 27 Journal article (“For cantors, culture shifts from listening to participating”) describing the changing role of cantors in contemporary synagogue life.
At Temple Emanu-El in Haverhill, we’ve taken a different approach: Cantor Vera Broekhuysen (Hebrew College ’16) serves as our spiritual leader, assisted by rabbinic interns from Hebrew College. Cantor Vera leads a variety of services for all age levels, officiates at life cycle events, tutors b’nei mitzvah students, leads our choir, provides pastoral care, teaches adult education and religious school classes, and works closely with the board of directors to develop and implement policy – in short, performs all functions traditionally held by a rabbi and a chazzan.
A willingness to experiment with nontraditional roles is essential in an increasingly challenging congregational environment. Cantor Vera’s experience, insight, and dedication to our community, as well as her commitment to social justice, all combine to help us take on this challenge and make her invaluable to our congregation.
Paula Breger, Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill