New Finchley Reform appointment Zöe Jacobs is the first graduate of a seminary programme to work as a cantor in a UK Reform congregation.
Cantor Jacobs graduated recently from Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York. She led High Holy-Day services at Finchley and will also be co-ordinating Jewish music projects for the Reform movement.
Raised in Muswell Hill, north London, the 29-year-old studied Jewish history at Southampton University, where she chaired the Jewish society. She then spent a year working for the Movement for Reform Judaism as a student fieldworker, as well as teaching at the Finchley and Southgate Reform synagogues. During her training in America, she had cantorial internships in New York and New Jersey.
At Finchley, her aim “is to help create a tradition where each piece of music helps us understand our story, investigate our text, and deepen our prayer”.
The shul’s Rabbi Miriam Berger said: “Cantor Jacobs is introducing us to traditions we were losing. The journey through the Jewish year is already being made more accessible by using music as our guide.”
Cantor Jacobs is also contributing to a book of Jewish music being produced by the movement.