Gala Concert Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Women Cantors

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

December 3, 2007, New York, NY

The twentieth anniversary of the ordination of female cantors in Conservative Judaism will be celebrated with Kol Ishah, a gala concert that will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 16 at The Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, New York City. A reception will follow the concert.

Sponsored by the Women's League for Conservative Judaism in conjunction with JTS’s H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music and the Cantors Assembly, the event will include performances by women cantors from across the country singing a variety of liturgical and popular music.

The concept of kol ishah, a woman’s voice, has a thorny history in Jewish history, with discussions in ancient rabbinic commentaries ultimately resulting in the exclusion of women from performing. Modern reinterpretation by Conservative Judaism led to the acceptance of female students in the H. L. Miller Cantorial School with the first women invested as cantors in May 1987.

Since that time, the growing cadre of women cantors has profoundly influenced the course of contemporary hazzanut. In addition, whether in their roles as hazzanim, prayer leaders, teachers, or pastoral counselors, women cantors serve as equal partners with men in the transmission of Jewish culture and values.

A highlight of the concert will be the world-wide premiere of a special Sheheheyanu composed by Hazzan Joanna Selznick Dulkin of Shaare Zedek Synagogue in Saint Louis. Hazzan Dulkin, who received her investiture and master’s of sacred music from the H. L. Miller Cantorial School in 2004, is an award-winning composer who has performed throughout the United States.

Proceeds from the concert will fund the Women’s League Kol Ishah Prize to be award to a female student the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and future Women’s League educational programming.

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is the parent body of 600 women’s groups in Conservative synagogues across North America, Israel, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The largest synagogue women’s organization in the world, with a membership of 100,000, it is dedicated to the perpetuation of traditional Judaism in the home, synagogue and community. Founded in 1918, Women’s League is associated with JTS, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (Los Angeles), and the Schechter Institute (Jerusalem).

Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door. For information or to purchase tickets, contact Women’s League at (212) 870-1260 or

Editors/Reporters: For further information, contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the JTS Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953 or Rhonda Jacobs Kahn at Women’s League at (212) 870-1260.