Temple Israel Women Lead Weekend Of Prayer

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The participants in Temple Israel of Great Neck’s all-woman-led weekend of services with their teacher and coach, the congregation’s cantor, Raphael Frieder (left)
The participants in Temple Israel of Great Neck’s all-woman-led weekend of services with their teacher and coach, the congregation’s cantor, Raphael Frieder (left)

Multigenerational women from Temple Israel of Great Neck showcased the exceptional level of Hebrew they mastered during months of study as they led the congregation’s third Shabbat Kol Ishah, which means “a woman’s voice.”

More than 60 participants led the special Sabbath, starting with the Friday evening service and ending with closing prayers on Saturday night. The inspiring services were orchestrated by the congregation’s cantor, Raphael Frieder, who taught each of the participants and prepared her to chant her part. The cantor conducted weekly classes and private lessons with the participants to enable everyone to learn the material.

“I came away with a finer appreciation of the exactitude in pronunciation and melody which the chanting demands,” said Susan Buckler, one of the participants. “I have an even greater appreciation for our cantor after trying to get each small phrase just right.”

The weekend of services represented the seventh congregation-led Sabbath. These lay-led services began in 2009 with a series of yearly services featuring men of the congregation, women of the congregation and a mixture of both women and men.

One of the most poignant elements of these Sabbath services is the opportunity to lead prayer with family members or friends. This year, the congregation heard the voices of several mother and daughter teams, including Eleanor Yomtobian-Askari and Serena Askari; Nataly and Amelia Blumberg; Simone and Sheeryn Kahen; Esther, Talia and Eden Katz; and Rebecca Yousefzadeh and Emma Sassouni.

It also featured a team of three sisters, Susan Abouf, Carol Shamoon Seidenberg and Linda Shamoon Young; and three generations of the Rokhsar family: Guity Rokhsar, her daughters Lillian Rokhsar and Rachel Geula, and Rachel Geula’s daughter, Rena. Another inspiring team consisted of four women from the current adult bat mitzvah class: Lila Bernstein-Schoen, Minoo Dilmanian, Josephine Haghani and Marjan Taied.

“I found two things particularly moving in this year’s Sabbath service,” said Cantor Frieder. “The first was the camaraderie that developed among the participants during the preparation period. That feeling of warmth and support affected the whole congregation. Second was the sense of ownership and empowerment that the participants demonstrated. It was wonderful to see.”

This year’s service was coordinated by a Steering Committee including Sherry Husney, Pargol Khadavi, Lori Oppenheimer, Neda Sedgh and Deanna Stecker.

Participants also included Ellen Birnbaum, Amy David, Mahin Farhangian, Aliza Fine, Wendy Fried, Becky Friedman-Charry, Lesli Giglio, Madelyn Gould, Judy Greenstein, Annie Hirsch, Lauren Horowitz, Andy Katz, Ronnie Katz, Eve Keller, Elise Kestenbaum, Jennifer Khoda, Brenda Kopelowitz and Alise Kreditor.

They were joined by Karen Lewkowitz-Miller, Veronica Lurvey, Nelly Mizrahi, Cheryl Eisberg Moin, Rahel Musleah, Ofra Panzer, Edie Robbins, Patty Schneider, Sarah Schweber, Harriet Spitzer-Picker, Barbara Spun, Diana Stein, Sima Taeid, Irene Tannenholtz-Marcus, Debbie Volk and Gail Zahler.

Temple Israel is Long Island’s largest Conservative egalitarian Jewish congregation.

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