Aspiring Female Cantors Can Now Sing to New Heights


Philadelphia, PA
May 10, 2018

SooJi Min-Maranda
215.247-9700, x24

Aspiring Female Cantors Can Now Sing to New Heights

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal is pleased to announce the establishment of an endowment that will fund cantorial scholarships. The goal of the endowment, made possible through a gift from Jonah and Jacob Mink in honor of their late mother, is to support aspiring, female-identifying cantors in their training. The Susan A. Wehle Cantorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to one recipient in the ALEPH Ordination Program. ALEPH will select the first scholarship recipient in the spring of 2019.

Susan Wehle was ordained the first American female Jewish Renewal cantor (hazzan) in 2006. Beloved by her congregation and the broader Jewish and Buffalo communities, Susan served as cantor for Temple Beth Am in Williamsville, NY from 2002 until her untimely death in an airplane crash in 2009. A leader in the interfaith movement in Buffalo, she also helped to coordinate a summer program for Jewish, Muslim and Christian children to promote mutual understanding and connection among all people. Before Temple Beth Am, she was a cantorial soloist at Temple Sinai in Amherst, NY. Susan had also brought her musical gifts to performances in theater companies in New York and Chicago and released a CD, Songs of Healing and Hope. She was the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

In her memory, the Susan Wehle Fund was created with never ending love and enthusiastic pride by her two sons Jonah and Jacob. It is a small family fund supported by Susan’s family and those who love her.

“ALEPH hazzanim are trained not only in the vocal performance aspect of cantorial song and prayer, but engage in graduate-level Jewish studies, and acquire sophisticated pastoral skills so that they can function as clergy with a wide range of capabilities, including as sole spiritual leaders for Jewish communities,” says Hazzan Jack Kessler, Director of the ALEPH Cantorial Program.  “Susan was a musically gifted, luminous spiritual presence. It gives me great pleasure that this fund will keep her memory alive by helping our students,”

“We are so grateful to the Minks for their generosity and honored that ALEPH can play a part in ensuring that their mother’s legacy will live on through the songs of future cantors who benefit from the endowment,” says SooJi Min-Maranda, ALEPH’s executive director.

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal envisions a contemporary Judaism that is joyous, creative, spiritually rich, socially progressive, and earth-aware. ALEPH is the umbrella organization for Jewish Renewal, a spiritual movement founded by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l during the counterculture movement of the 1960’s. ALEPH brings spiritual vitality and passion into the daily lives of Jews through programs that empower leadership, build communities, and generate powerful experiences and practical resources. ALEPH contributes to Jewish Renewal by supporting new creative efforts that draw upon the rich legacy of Jewish mystical/hasidic traditions and the deep wisdom of Jewish life and practice. Among its varied activities, ALEPH offers an ordination program comprised of four pathways, one of which is the Cantorial Pathway.