Cantor Lorna Wallach
25 Years at CBI!
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CBI is thrilled to be honoring Cantor Lorna Wallach at this year’s gala in honor of her 25 years of service to the congregation.  A Brooklyn native, Lorna attended public schools and afternoon religious school, and spent fifteen summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires which culminated in her co-leading the music program there.  Her parents helped to nurture her Jewish identity and modeled for her and her siblings a love of Judaism and active engagement in a Jewish community.  Throughout her life, Lorna has been a trailblazer in the Conservative movement.  Hers was the first Shabbat morning Bat Mitzvah at the East Midwood Jewish Center, and she was among the very first women to study for the cantorate at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  While at JTS, she was invited to be the first female cantorial intern at Town and Village Synagogue in Manhattan – an internship which turned into a full-time pulpit position upon her ordination in 1991.

Having spent 11 years of her childhood singing in the children’s chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, Lorna’s first dream was to be a professional opera singer, and she pursued this dream while earning her bachelor’s degree at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music.  While in college, a chance offer to be the cantorial soloist for High Holiday services at a small congregation in Queens led her to consider a career as a cantor, despite having had no female clergy role models while growing up.  In a sense she was fortunate.  The Conservative movement was just beginning to open leadership roles to women as she finished college, creating a small path to an intrepid group of pioneers.  Despite facing skepticism from more traditional-minded leaders at both JTS and in various Conservative synagogues, Lorna persevered.  She served Town and Village Synagogue for nine years, and thereafter came to B’nai Israel in the summer of 1998.

Whether she is teaching B’nai Mitzvah students, helping adults learn new synagogue skills, conducting the volunteer choir or band, serving as shaliach tzibur (davening leader), infusing congregational life with new Israeli music, working with our nursery school students, or doing clergy pastoral work, Lorna’s guiding credo as a cantor is not to be a performer, but rather to teach and inspire her congregants, empowering them to find spiritual sustenance in the liturgy and in living Jewishly.

In addition to her efforts to increase engagement and connection to Judaism among CBI members, Lorna has also enjoyed many accomplishments in the wider Jewish community, including performing as a soloist with the New York Zamir Choral in concerts at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall.  In addition, Lorna served as one of the editors on the new Ramah Shiron songbook.  Lorna is a member of the Cantors Assembly, where she has served on the placement and membership committees. She has also volunteered as a local clergy at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, been an active member of the Millburn-Short Hills Interfaith Clergy Council and has participated in a clergy capacity in local Interfaith services and 9/11 commemorations.

In recognition of her long and outstanding service to the Conservative movement and the Jewish community, Lorna was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Sacred Music by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2022.
Lorna and her husband, Michael Kalet, feel privileged to have raised their children Shira (24) and Joshua (22) in the warm and caring CBI community.

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