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Once upon a time, during one of many private conversations with The Source of Light, I was almost certain that I could hear the following. “Liat, I am here to reveal a secret. For years, I guided you, dragged you, so you will learn to comprehend the Power of Love. You had to find out who you are and what you stand for, so you could realize the inevitable – you were born to become a cantor. Your life’s “prep course” taught you to love God and people unconditionally. Yes, I am aware that you are crazy about children… With your passion for music and a little help from your FRIENDS, you will become a wonderful cantor. Remember, you are never alone! Go for it, girl! “

In the year 1999, I was looking for a seminary where I could learn cantorial art. One of the choices was the Academy for Jewish Religion. The first class I visited was “Recitative in Worship”, taught by Cantor Sol Zim. His davenning took me places I have never been before. Immediately I knew that the Academy was the right place for me. Here I had the opportunity to explore and express my Yiddishkeit on a personal and a professional level. To be taught and coached by Cantor Sol Zim became one of my most uplifting, inspiring, and rewarding experiences.

I am grateful to HaShem for every blessing: my family, friends, teachers, and students who stood by my side and supported me on this journey of finding myself and becoming what I love the most – being a cantor.

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“Sing to Adonai a new song with a full heart”
(Adaptation of Psalm 96:1)

Cantor Sol Zim signing Cantor
Liat’s ordination certificate

Cantor Liat & her Bet Din:
Cantor Sol Zim (Somech),
Cantor Rena Shapiro and Cantor Natasha Hirshhorn.

Cantor Liat purposely chose the adaptation of Psalm 96:1 as an opening for her page in the ordination booklet. Because when she sings to The Source of Love her own, unique song, she always does it with all of her heart. Cantor Liat Pelman-Forst was ordained in May, 2006 at the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) in Riverdale, New York, the only pluralistic seminary. During the ordination her presenter, Dr. Ora Horn Prouser, Executive Vice President of the Academy for Jewish Religion, said: “Liat came to the Academy searching for a way to use her beautiful neshamah, musical talents, and her special sense of connection to the Divine to serve the Jewish People. When Liat leads a community in prayer, there is a palpable sense of awe, as she states her case before God. Her delight and pleasure are in clear evidence when she leads people in joyful prayers of hope and thanks. The beauty of Liat’s davenning is not just in her strong and engaging voice, but also in her ability to project the meaning of the liturgy through her entire being. The experience is extraordinary and fulfilling. Liat brings into her dreams all of the experiences of her life’s journey, both the joy and the pain, as she has traveled from Russia to Israel to New York. Each place she has lived in has contributed something to Liat’s development as a person and as a cantor. She has been blessed with strength, great talent, and a spiritual sense that pervades her being. Liat is also known as a tremendously giving person… She has loved being part of the AJR community, and has blessed the community with her unique presence.”

Music by Cantor Sol Zim,
Professor of Cantorial Studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion