Cantor Rebecca Garfein, mezzo-soprano, is the Senior Cantor of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, and is the first female Cantor ever to hold this position. Cantor Garfein has appeared in numerous recitals throughout the United States, Israel, and Europe. In 1997, Cantor Garfein was invited to participate in the Jewish Cultural Festival in Berlin, Germany and was the first female Cantor to give a solo concert in the same city her grandfather of blessed memory fled. At the 1998 Berlin Jewish Cultural Festival, she became the first female Cantor to preside in a German synagogue, and released a CD of the live recording of the 1997 Berlin concert, "Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue."
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Cantor Garfein has been a featured soloist with the Ra'a'na'na Orchestra and the Zamir Chorale at the Jerusalem Theater in Israel and in 2001 was a soloist at the 350th anniversary concert of the Curacao Jewish Community.
Cantor Garfein made her New York City debut with the New York Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra at Cami Hall and recently made her Carnegie Hall debut with Mandy Patinkin in a benefit for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre.
Cantor Garfein graduated cum laude from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. In 1993, she received her Master's Degree in Sacred Music and Cantorial Investiture from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).
Berliners say New York's Rebecca Garfein is causing a revival of Reform Judaism in Germany; this mezzo-soprano is making history with her music, recorded in the country where her great -grandmother perished in the Holocaust. In 1997, she became the first female cantor to sing in a synagogue in Germany; where she performed as part of Berlin's International Jewish Cultural Festival; and this exquisite 1998 release captures that ground - (and stained-glass ceiling) - breaking moment. It contains Jewish songs and prayers in Hebrew and Yiddish, selections from the Book of Ruth and Song of Songs - liturgical music previously only chanted my male clergy - operatic in character, performed in what was once the women's gallery in the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue before its destruction. This live performance was attended by Jews and non-Jews, women and men, together, shattering the historical separation of faiths and genders. Beautiful, significant, and highly recommended!
Jerry Ben-Asher, NJJN-MetroWest, March 25, 1999
A new recording, in which Garfein's beautiful mezzo-soprano voice faithfully sustains the feeling of the 17 selections is available to mirror the historical event. Her program draws for some of the American Reform Judaism's most appealing liturgical melodies, as well as a modicum of secular folk song.
Lois Lebow, Atlanticville, April, 1999
I can honestly say that I play it [Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue] every morning. What an inspirational to begin the day! Cantor Garfein's lovely voice does not mask the clarity of the words of these prayers. Her masterful musicianship and religious fervor combine forces of a powerful performance. This is a CD that I most heartily recommend to any music lover.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Ma Tovu
2. Ahavat Olam
5. Shalom Rav
6. Grant Us Peace
8. L'dor Vador
9. Yosl Klezmer
10. A Nigun
11. Avinu Malkeynu
13. Ana Dodi
14. Entreat Me Not To Leave Me
15. Cantor Garfein's Greeting to the Audience