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If you close your eyes when you hear the voice of Cantor Liat Pelman-Forst, you actually feel your soul being lifted up to the highest heavens while an opening is made in the innermost depths of your heart.  That was my experience when I first heard Liat sing as a cantorial student, doing a practicum, when we both studied at the Academy for Jewish Religion and apparently everyone else in the room experienced this tremendous spiritual power, too, because for a moment we were all too moved to even clap when she finished.  I knew then that Cantor Liat had a gift that many aspire to but only a rare few achieve to bring into music the sincerity and power of her love, which connects her to all living beings. Her life experiences have been extremely challenging for any human being, and yet they have revealed her strength of character, her wisdom and her deep faith in humanity and in God.

As her friend and rabbinic colleague, I have been privileged to lead services with her on numerous occasions and in various settings. Most recently, Cantor Liat  co-conducted a Kabbalat Shabbat service for my Chavurah group in Detroit and a Shabbat Shacharit service for my Conservative congregation in Bay City, MI.  People are still talking about this and asking when she will return because they were so moved by her  beautiful and natural davening, and the almost-hypnotic way she engages people in joining the singing of melodies, new and old, for our prayers. Many a time the services we jointly conducted ended with people on their feet, singing, clapping and breaking into circle dances automatically.

One of most moving moments for me was when Cantor Liat sang the Sheva Brachot at my daughter’s wedding where we co-officiated. Because Cantor Liat gets to know each bride and groom well before the ceremony, (and, of course, she had known my daughter for several years) she brought to these blessings a very personalized, musical message. Suffice it to say that their was not a dry eye in the house after Cantor Liat sang with such love and feeling for our Jewish heritage, our Yiddishkeit.

During her studies, I can attest to the fact that Cantor Liat became captivated by the insights she gained when learning Torah, Jewish liturgy, lifecycles, history, or modern Jewish issues. Since she was fluent in Hebrew already, our sacred texts easily opened to her and, with her keen and critical mind, she soon found herself discovering whole new areas of Jewish knowledge which lit sparks inside of her.
Following some deep instinct, Liat was drawn to Jewish liturgical music and, through her creative and conscientious efforts, she developed into a soul-filled hazan, an amazing cantor who brings new meaning to the Davidic verse – a sweet singer of God’s praises.

Rabbi Dorit Edut