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Click on each name below to read their bio!

 

Cantor Jacqueline Rafii, Valley Beth Shalom

Cantor Jacqueline Rafii joined the Valley Beth Shalom clergy team in 2022, bringing along her vision for building, engaging, and invigorating Jewish community through the power of music. She directs and develops innovative musical programs and services--including the wildly successful Shiru Shabbat service--as the Music Director for VBS and its schools; launched the VBS Youth Choir and revived the VBS Community Choir; created an annual Concert Series; oversees the newly redesigned B’nai Mitzvah program; and shares holidays, special occasions, and sacred moments with our members. 

Prior to joining VBS, Cantor Rafii served for five years as the Cantor of Shomrei Torah Synagogue. Highlights include Songstruck, a sold-out Cantors' Concert; the Shabbat Around the World series; Zamru Shabbat; Simcha Shabbat; and founding and directing the synagogue’s first-ever Youth and Teen Choirs. In 2019 and 2020, Cantor Rafii was honored by LA Mayor Garcetti’s office for her impactful work in the community.

Cantor Rafii was ordained as a Hazzan and earned her Master's in Sacred Jewish Music from the Academy for Jewish Religion California. For her Master's thesis, she conducted original fieldwork in the area of preserving, notating, and sharing Persian Jewish prayer melodies with communities around the world. She performed many of these pieces in her Senior Recital, Kol Haneshama, which is available to view below.

Prior to becoming a cantor, Cantor Rafii earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and practiced entertainment law. She also served as a cantorial soloist at major synagogues across Los Angeles, and she was the first-ever female prayer leader at the Iranian Jewish Senior Center’s High Holy Days services. 

Cantor Rafii is a published composer and pianist, and performs Jewish music in Hebrew, Ladino, Farsi and English. She is an Alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Cantor Rafii lives in Los Angeles with her husband Lev and daughter, Adira.


Cantor Phil Baron, Valley Beth Shalom

Cantor Phil Baron is the son of a violinist and the grandson of a Vilna rabbi. This combination of influences should have led him immediately into the world of Jewish music. Instead, he first took a successful detour into children’s entertainment, where he had over 300 original songs recorded -- nearly 200 of these by the Walt Disney Company. In addition, he has been the voice of such loveable characters as “Piglet” and “Teddy Ruxpin.” 

Eventually his strong Jewish roots started to pull him in a new direction. He co-created two television series for Jewish children, “Bubbe’s Boarding House,” and the multiple award-winning series “Alef…Bet…Blast-off!” In the mid-1990s he became a frequent cantorial soloist at Valley Beth Shalom, eventually helping to create the very successful ShabbosFest monthly service. In 2001, Cantor Baron entered the Academy for Jewish Religion where he studied with esteemed hazzanim Nathan Lam, Don Gurney, Perryne Anker, Benyamin Glickman and Joseph Gole. In 2005, he received his cantorial ordination as well as a Masters degree in Jewish Sacred Music, while simultaneously serving as Cantor for Congregation Beth Shalom in Santa Clarita, California.

In 2005 he joined the clergy staff at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. In addition to his cantorial duties at VBS, Cantor Baron has also written many settings for the liturgy. In 2011 his interest in developing new works for the synagogue led him to found and direct the Helfman Institute, a composers group dedicated to creating new synagogue music. The group has now written over 40 pieces and is currently developing a major new work in partnership with the recently endowed UCLA Mickey Katz Chair in Jewish Music.

Cantor Baron is currently part of the clergy cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an on-going project to study and embody the sacred teachings of the Chassidic masters, with an emphasis on meditation, prayer and mindful living.


Cantor Herschel Fox, Valley Beth Shalom

Cantor Herschel Fox has shared his knowledge, talent, and Yiddishkeit with VBS for more than 40 years! Born in Europe and raised in Winnipeg, Canada among Holocaust survivors he spent his childhood in the dual world of Yiddish cultural life and European Orthodox Judaism, and became a cantor at the age of 13. He was Cantor at Temple Shalom in Connecticut and performed in Yiddish theater and for Jewish organizations in the New York area.


Cantorial Soloist Jenni Asher, HAMAKOM

Jenni Asher is a Cantorial student at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California as well as a multi-instrumentalist (violin, viola, cello, erhu, octave mandolin, piano). She is celebrated for her versatility and ease in improvisation in any genre. Jenni holds a masters in music leadership from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and a bachelors in violin performance at the Royal Academy of Music, both in London, England.

Jenni was born and raised in California, where she returned after college to marry the boy next door. They live with their two children in Sherman OaksTo hear recordings of her compositions and collaborations, please go to jenniasher.bandcamp.com, or type her name into any streaming music service.


Cantor Orly Campbell, Sinai Temple

Cantor Orly Campbell joined the clergy team at Sinai Temple this past July, after serving as Cantor at Temple Beth David for the past three years. She was ordained as a Cantor in 2019, from The Academy for Jewish Religion (California) where she also received a master’s degree in Jewish Sacred Music. She is a classically trained opera singer (“coloratura”) who fuses classic Hazzanut with other genres like Broadway and Jazz.

You may have seen Orly singing at temples such as Valley Beth Shalom, Temple Ramat Zion, Stephen Wise, Beth Shir Shalom, Temple Judea, Temple Akiba, Temple Beth David, and Desert Outreach Synagogue. She loves sharing her love of Hazzanut, being Jewish and the music with everyone around her.  “As a Cantor, my hope is to teach, guide, and inspire with the power of music and prayer. I hope to elevate the spiritual experience at services and life cycle events, leading everyday with my heart, head and most importantly, my soul.”

Being a Cantor wasn’t something that Orly knew would become her future. She had dreams of being on Broadway. But sometimes things truly happen for a reason, and Orly was meant to go on this journey of becoming a Cantor. Besides her love of being a Cantor and serving her wonderful community at Sinai Temple, Orly is proud of her other role, being a mom to her 4 children: Joshua, Emma, Benjamin, and Madeline.


Cantor Kelly Cooper, Temple Israel Long Beach

Kelly Cooper began singing and performing at the age of 13. She graduated from the University of Southern California Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis on vocal performance. Kelly performed leading roles in musical theater and opera productions in Los Angeles, New York, and on the high seas. She also sang in the LA Opera chorus. A few of her favorite roles include Susanna in Marriage of Figaro, Phyllis in Iolanthe, Anna in the King and I, and many other roles that she originated in equity showcases in New York and Los Angeles. 

After starting a family, Kelly decided to enter into cantorial school at AJRCA and was ordained in May of 2022. She served as the cantorial soloist for Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach for three years. Before that, she was the cantorial soloist for Desert Outreach Synagogue in Rancho Mirage. Kelly has also worked for the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach as the song leader for Camp Komaroff, Women’s Weekend, and the Senior Shabbat lunch program. She has been the cantor at Temple Israel since 2021. Kelly lives with her husband, Joel Perler, their two children, Max and Molly, and their dog, Murphy.


Cantor Ilan Davidson, Temple Beth El

Cantor Ilan Davidson has been pleasing audiences with his singing since before he could read. At age five, he began singing with his Cantor, Philip Moddel, and hasn’t shut up since. At ten, he made his Operatic debut with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen, as a street urchin. Since then, he has performed roles in opera and musical theatre, performing, directing, and producing world-class productions.

Among his many accomplishments, Cantor Davidson is also known as a contemporary Jewish songwriter and performer, having delighted audiences all over the world, including Israel and Lithuania with the soulful sounds of his music. His recordings, Stained Glass (1995) and In A Hanukkah Mood (2007) are collections of original and covered songs by himself and many contemporary Jewish artists. His most recent recording, God Is In This Place (2020), is a collection of original liturgical pieces for the Friday night Shabbat Service, commissioned and written in honor of his 25th Anniversary as the Cantor of Temple Beth El.

Cantor Davidson left the stage and in 1995 joined the Temple Beth El family, in San Pedro, where, in his nearly 30 years of service, he has brought many new programs and much enthusiasm to all he does. Coming from a long line of Cantors, it must have been Besheret for Cantor Davidson, although talented in all areas of musical performance, to finally settle down into his career as Hazzan for Temple Beth El in San Pedro, California. In 2007, Cantor Davidson founded a new foundation, KindredSPIRITS, producing an annual world humanitarian aid event. KindredSPIRITS premiered on June 5, 2008 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, adding that prestigious concert hall to the ever growing list of venues around the world, where Davidson has performed. During the 10 years of humanitarian events, Global KindredSPIRITS, Inc., as an official 501©3, raised awareness and close to $500,000 for its beneficiaries over the decade.

As a past president of the South Coast Interfaith Council, Ilan fought for tolerance and understanding of ALL faiths in a difficult climate. For the past 7 years, Cantor Davidson has been service as an LA County Commissioner, representing the 4th District on the Human Relations Commission, where he currently serves as President. Whether it is raising his voice for justice, Hazzanut, Pop, Opera, Musical Theatre, or folk music, Cantor Ilan Davidson shares his soul and genuine love in every note.

When asked about his finest accomplishment, Cantor Ilan invariably responds, “After all the great concerts, services, and roles, my finest role in life is that of husband to my beautiful wife, Jodi, and daddy to my gorgeous daughters, Jordan and Zoe.”


Cantorial Soloist Shelly Fox, Temple Israel of Hollywood

Shelly Fox has served Temple Israel of Hollywood as Cantorial Soloist since 2015 and as Music Director since 2017. Shelly is deeply interested in exploring the balance between tradition and innovation in worship music and encouraging people to discover and develop their own voice in prayer and song.

 Before entering the Cantorate, Shelly worked extensively as a professional classical soprano, specializing in Renaissance and Baroque music as both a soloist and vocal chamber musician, having received her Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University in 1999. Shelly was a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale for 18 years and for 9 years was the voice faculty for the Early Music Department at University of Southern California. Before focusing on Classical Music, Shelly was a folk singer-songwriter in Upstate New York and Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoys bouncing between styles and in any worship service one can hear her lead the congregation in song with her guitar and also fill the room with old synagogue classics.

Shelly is currently studying for her Cantorial Ordination at Academy of Jewish Religion California.


Cantor Chayim Frankel, Kehillat Israel

Now in his 39th year serving KI, Cantor Chayim Frenkel has built an impressive career marked by a series of exceptional musical accomplishments. Blessed with a rich, warm tenor voice and an ability to nurture others’ talents, Chayim has become a driving force in the world of modern Jewish music and cantorial practice, following in the very large footsteps of his late father, Hazzan Uri Frenkel.

Cantor Frenkel has commissioned and produced numerous recordings, including “Nishmat Tzedek – A Righteous Soul,” an orchestral and choral suite in honor of his brother Tzvi, of blessed memory. Chayim’s dear friend, the acclaimed Cantor Meir Finkelstein, composed the work. The composition had its world premier at KI in 1994. Cantor Frenkel and Meir expanded their recording into a book and compact disc package as a gift of healing to those who have lost loved ones in the ongoing terrorism that plagues our world.

In 1995, Cantor Frenkel served as executive director of Cantor Finkelstein’s moving oratorio, “Liberation,” commemorating the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and in loving memory of his beloved mother, Shari Frenkel, who survived the Shoa. In 1998, Cantor Frenkel served as co-chair of the Cantors Assembly’s celebration in honor of the State of Israel’s 50th anniversary. As part of these festivities, he performed at Carnegie Hall and produced a concert in New York’s Central Park, attended by over 10,000 people.

 Cantor Frenkel has commissioned and produced numerous recordings and, in 2009, he launched KI tunes (kitunes.org), which offers free downloads of all the music of KI that he has produced. Chayim loves to travel, especially when leading KI family trips to Israel. Cantor Frenkel lives in Pacific Palisades with his beloved wife, Marsi and his two daughters Molli and Mandi.


Hazzan Daniel Friedman, Temple Ramat Zion

Daniel Eli Friedman is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. In 2017, he earned a Master in Jewish Sacred Music from The Academy for Jewish Religion-California (AJRCA). In 2021 he founded Hazzan Solutions, a software company focused on developing web-based alternatives utilizing cutting-edge technology to assist clergy and laypeople in the learning of Trope, Torah, Haftarah, and Megillot chanting (TropeTrainer.com), as well as the administering of B’nai Mitzvah training programs (BMitzvahManager.com) and the scheduling of lay-led Torah chanting (iLeyn.com). He currently serves Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge, California, where he has been their Cantor for the last twelve years. As part of his ministry, he enjoys producing, directing, and performing in concerts in addition to inspiring Jewish musicians to create “service experiences.” Prior to finding his calling in the Cantorate, Hazzan Friedman spent 15 years as an actor based in New York City performing in such well-known musicals as Les Miserables, CATS, Forever Plaid, Falsettos, and plays such as, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and The God of Isaac to name a few. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hazzan Friedman counts Cantors Allan Michelson, z”ll, Jeremy Lipton, and Nate Lam as his mentors inspiring him to a lifetime commitment as an Hazzan. In his “down” time Daniel enjoys playing ice-hockey, backpacking with his three children and three stepdaughters, reading historical thrillers, gardening, building and renovating things, as well as traveling and spending time with his wife, Jodie.


Hazzan Amy Robinson Katz, Congregation B'nai Israel

Amy Robinson Katz serves as the Cantor of Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, California. She was ordained as a Hazzan from the Academy of Jewish Religion California (AJRCA) in May 2022 where she also earned a Masters of Jewish Sacred Music and wrote a thesis titled B’Shir v’Kol Todah: The Life and Music of Philip Moddel. Cantor Katz is a member of the Cantors Assembly and AJRCA Clergy and Alumni Association, and is a proud JLicense Artist.

An accomplished musician and arranger, Cantor Katz studied piano with Marjorie Brown z”l and Lina Baranov. She also plays guitar. From 2010 to 2014, Cantor Katz directed Shir Energy, a community a capella group in Orange County. She is the creator and composer of Prayersong contemplative singing. She is also the creator and director of HAL’LU Shabbat mornings—a communal musical prayer experience — that is “traditional like you’ve never heard before.”

In addition to her work at CBI, Cantor Amy regularly leads tefillah and music at Tarbut v’Torah Upper School. She served eight years as High Holiday Cantor for Temple Israel of Sharon, Massachusetts, has lead numerous Shabbatonim at the American Jewish University Intro to Judaism program, served as Rosh Performing Arts at Camp Ramah Ojai, and is the author of her blog A Guide for the PRAYERplexed.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cantor Amy learned video editing and produced videos for CBI, AJRCA, and Sinai Temple of Los Angeles. She loves to bake challah and lives in Irvine with her husband Arie and sons, Ezra and Aaron.


Cantorial Soloist Elizabeth Kerstein, Temple Ahavat Shalom

Elizabeth Kerstein is the cantorial soloist at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. As TAS’s cantorial soloist, she leads the music for the High Holidays, Shabbat services, and lifecycle events; trains the B’nai mitzvah and Religious School students; directs the adult and children’s choirs; and helps to lead synagogue programming alongside Rabbi Becky Hoffman.

Prior to beginning her cantorial career, Elizabeth was a classical singer and music teacher. Elizabeth has sung with the Baltimore, San Diego, and Santa Barbara opera choruses, and she was the alto soloist at Sinai Temple and Temple Judea in LA and Chizuk Amuno in Baltimore. From 2018-21, Elizabeth was on the voice faculty at California School for the Arts - San Gabriel Valley, where she conducted the middle school chorus and taught classes through a partnership with Citrus College. She also ran a mentorship program training high school students to teach music to elementary schoolers.

An LA native, Elizabeth studied voice at the Peabody Conservatory (MM) and St. Olaf College (BMus). She spent a summer studying modern Hebrew in immersion at the Middlebury Language Schools. She is currently a cantorial student at AJRCA. She lives in Sherman Oaks with her son, Judah, and their cat, Paprika.


Cantor Lisa Peicott, Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Cantor Lisa Peicott became the Senior Cantor of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in September 2023. She joined  Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 2018, coming to us from Temple Sinai, where she held a large musical, liturgical, and education portfolio. During her years at Sinai, from 2013 to early 2018, she created a meditation service, “Shabbat Menucha,” as well as the temple Meshorerim Choir, comprised of 3rd through 7th grade students. She was also actively involved with the Sinai Temple Religious School, teaching classes and leading prayer services for the students.

A classically trained soprano, she serves as Assistant Cantor under Don Gurney, striving, as she says, “to lift congregants to a higher spiritual place through the power of music and prayer while also working to inspire our youth to build and maintain a strong connection to Judaism.”

Cantor Peicott earned undergraduate and Masters degrees in music from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. She later began cantorial studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion of California. She was ordained as a cantor in 2018.

She is married to Joe Peicott, an entertainment lawyer, who is also a television writer and producer. Together they have a pug named Houdini, whom Lisa describes as “very cute,” but Joe says is “less-than-beautiful,” and two adorable children.


Cantor Heather Hoopes Seid, Ner Tamid Synagogue

Heather Seid graduated from Boston University’s School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and from the Academy for Jewish Religion California with a Master's of Jewish Sacred Music and smicha as Cantor.  Having studied with Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Cantors, and having served in diverse denominational settings Heather strives to bridge the gap between traditional and innovative davening styles by the weaving together of chazzanut and new melodic settings of prayers. She is privileged to have as her cantorial mentors Cantor Perryne Anker, one of the first working female Cantors, and Cantor Natalie Young, who is also a prolific Jewish music composer. Heather composes new Jewish music and is currently working on a project bringing to life prayers in four part harmony from the turn of the 20th century with Cantors and Cantorial Soloists from around the country.  She and her husband Rabbi Sammy Seid, and two sweet children Winnie (6) and Max (4) love being a part of the Ner Tamid community and the joy and kindness that emanates from everything the community does!


Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot, Temple Judea

Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot is best known for her joyful spirit, her soulful singing, and her passion for Jewish learning. She is dedicated to revitalizing worship and integrating the ancient sounds of Jewish tradition with contemporary music, and her background in theatre brings life and energy to synagogue experiences. Alison's deepest mission as a teacher, is to make the beauty and joy of Jewish text and liturgy accessible to all. Alison's work on the Board of Directors of Stand With Us has helped strengthen the Jewish community's pro-Israel message across college campuses. Prior to her rabbinic and cantorial career, Alison worked as an actress in New York and London, and was awarded a Spielberg Fellowship to teach Jewish theatre at the Reform Movement's flagship camp, Camp Kutz. Alison has brought her internationally acclaimed teaching of Jewish theatre to conventions and synagogues worldwide. Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot is proud to have served as cantor and rabbi at Temple Judea for the past 21 years. Alison, a native of the San Fernando Valley, resides in Northridge with her husband, Michael, their sons, Jacob & Daniel, and their daughter Abby.


Daniel Raijman, VBS Associate Music Director
Guitar & Music Direction

VBS's Associate Music Director Daniel Raijman is an award-winning guitarist and composer, as well as a music producer and educator. Daniel has a diverse and solid musical education, which includes: a master’s degree in Music Production at Berklee College of Music; a Film Scoring Post-Graduate Certificate at UCLA; and a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance in Buenos Aires. Over the last two decades, he has written, orchestrated and performed for film, television, commercials, records and hundreds of live performances and Jewish services. During the past ten years in L.A., his passion for arranging, producing and leading ensembles, his unique approach to accompanying on the guitar and his deep knowledge of music theory and Jewish music repertoire have made him a sought-after guitarist, ensemble leader and educator.

Daniel Raijman breathes, speaks and thinks music, and he inspires others to do the same. He is married to Nathalie and has a five-year-old daughter, Mila.


Peter Jacobsen, Cello

Peter Jacobson is a cellist, producer, songwriter-singer, chamber musician, teacher, and father. In 2013 he won a Grammy for Best Latin Rock Alternative or Urban Album as a member of the group Quetzal. Peter has recorded cello for artists including Dr. Dre and he frequently plays in the San Diego Symphony. He has been a soloist with Kamasi Washington and the West Coast Get Down, and has toured the world with Rhye. His solo cello can be heard in film and television, including The Walking Dead, Motherland, The Twilight Zone. Peter studied cello with Eleonore Schoenfeld at USC as well as at Cal Arts and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Zack Lodmer, Clarinet

Zack Lodmer is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter from Los Angeles, CA. His clarinet, bass clarinet, keyboards, and vocals can be heard on recordings and projects by Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Distant Cousins, Smile High feat. Antwaun Stanley (Vulfpeck), Chloe Pourmorady Ensemble, Fernando Perdomo, and Emmy Award winning composer, Vivek Maddala. Zack has shared the stage with Matisyahu, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Al Jardine (The Beach Boys), Mickey Dolenz (The Monkees), The Bangles, Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), The Lovin' Spoonful, Scott Bradlee, Joshua Redman, Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Peter Harper, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Grammy Award winner, Emily Bear, and more.  Zack lives in LA with his fiancee, Kimberly, his kids Benji and Sasha, and their mini golden doodle, Nacho.  In his not-so-spare time, Zack is a civil litigation attorney and certified yoga instructor. 

Sun, April 14 2024 6 Nisan 5784