Religion turn you off? Keep reading.
Grew up Jewish but hated religious school? Stay with me.
Swore you’d never set foot in a synagogue again? Don’t go anywhere.
I live in a Judaism that improves my life. I live in a Judaism that reminds me, through its cycles, to be gracious, loving, learning, and compassionate. It’s Judaism that guides me toward helping others while making sure my own core is healthy enough to give to others. It’s Judaism that invites me to be “observant” without, necessarily, following all of the “rules.” It’s Judaism that encourages me to find my own way at my own pace, without the judgement.
I live in guilt free Judaism, and I want to share it with you.
Cool Shul’s story…
Cool Shul is a new, contemporary, post-denominational community started by a group of friends longing for an intimate way to explore our Judaism without any pressures. We share Shabbat once a month, we hold a religious school twice a month for children grades 2-4 with additional days per month for grades 5-6. Our B’nai-Mitzvah students enter a year long, private study with me (Cantor Diane) when we create a personalized celebration that fits the child and the family. We invite you to enjoy what we have to offer as it works for you. We are not a membership community. We simply ask for donations to help keep us going.
Growing up, we called my synagogue the “ice palace” because it was large, had marble walls, and because the people were cold. Yikes. As you can imagine, after becoming a Bat-Mitzvah, I said I was done with Judaism. So, how did I end up deeply involved in Jewish thought and eventually decide to become a Cantor? As a young adult, I was searching high and low for a philosophy, a theology, a guru that made real world sense, that helped me lead a more beautiful and peaceful life, that helped me live in gratitude and be inspired to leave the world better than I found it. My search brought me home. I realized that if I looked at Judaism with a slightly different slant than I was taught in Hebrew school, I didn’t get bogged down in the do’s and don’t’s of Judaism but could focus on the nougat center of each word of Torah, each tradition and each law. I discovered I already had in the palm of my hand all the beauty I was searching for. I was born Jewish, but as a 30 year old, I also became a Jew by choice.
My formal education has been a-typical for sure. It has been pieced together through seminary classes, one-on-one mentoring, synagogue hopping, and reading A LOT of books. The Rabbis, Cantors, writers and teachers who taught me and opened my eyes have been Reform, Renewal, Conservative, Orthodox, even “Zen.” Because of this a-typical education, the lens through which I see Judaism (and spirituality in general) doesn’t fit under the narrow umbrella of one movement or one teacher. What feels honest and true to me is synthesizing all of these disparate sources. I soaked up incredible lessons from each, found I could apply them to my life, and got excited about sharing those discoveries with others through words and music.
As for writing, I never considered myself anything but a proficient writer. My creative outlet was always music. However when I got the Cantorial position at my temple, part of my job was to write a monthly article for our newsletter. I found myself luxuriating in the process of considering what to write, thinking about what lessons I could pass on from my teachers, figuring out how to challenge myself and my readers to elevate. The opportunity to teach through those monthly articles became one of my favorite parts of my job. However, there never seems to be as much space in those newsletters as I would like, and I often find myself wanting to write more than monthly, so rather than lament the fact that I can’t just “talk” in that forum, here I am, at the urging of my “Temple Mom,” writing a blog.
I have been a music teacher, a choral conductor, a Cantor and a mommy. I was Invested as Cantor by the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism, and I am now studying to be a Rabbi through JSLI. I served as the Cantor at Beth Shir Shalom, and I am now the spiritual leader of this wonderful new community, Cool Shul!