A message from Peter Ehrenberg, president of Congregation Rodeph Sholom:
I write you today with important news. Rebecca Garfein, our beloved Senior Cantor for the past 23 years, will be leaving Congregation Rodeph Sholom to pursue new opportunities at the end of June, 2021. Later this spring, we will honor Cantor Garfein and enable the Congregation to wish her continued success in her future endeavors.
Cantor Garfein was our first female cantor. Over these many years, she has prepared thousands of children and adults for their b’nai mitzvah, and has taught music and voice to countless others. By bringing a more engaging, contemporary, and participatory style of music to our services, she helped transform our worship. Her work in developing our chamber music program as well as other musical events brought us a new understanding of the relationship between faith and music.
Cantor Garfein carried our outstanding Children’s Choir to new heights, bringing them to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Citi Field to lift their voices in song. Her leadership of the Caring Community and Mental Health Committee has helped countless congregants to feel seen, especially during this isolating time of COVID.
Cantor Garfein has earned a well-deserved international reputation as a superlative musician and interpreter of the ancient and modern music of our tradition. She was the first female cantor to preside in a German synagogue, the famed Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue in Berlin, near the town where her grandfather grew up before he immigrated to America in 1938.
Cantor Garfein carried on her work with great strength and determination during the tragic illness of her late husband, Mike Gellman, showing us all the meaning of “grace under pressure.” Recently, she has graced our offerings during the pandemic with wonderful online programs in addition to our regular services.
I am pleased to announce that effective July 1, 2021, our Associate Cantor Shayna De Lowe – who has been a part of our clergy team for 13 years now – will take on the role of interim Senior Cantor. Cantor De Lowe has inspired us with her passion for inclusion, weaving exceptional musical talent with a prophetic call to justice that has helped to create “spaces of belonging.” We are incredibly fortunate to have her as part of our community.
We will miss Cantor Garfein and her magnificent voice, which transported us over the course of many worship services. We wish Cantor Garfein and her beautiful family great joy as they begin their next chapter.