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Cantor Melissa Cohen
Cantor Melissa Cohen has been the Cantor at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck since 2015. Cantor Cohen grew up in Lakewood, New Jersey where her love for Judaism developed attending the Solomon Schechter Academy. As a young student, she was an active member of USY, leyned Torah at her home congregation and had the distinct opportunity to sing in Israel and Poland on a March of the Living trip while she was in high school. An accomplished musician from a young age, her love for music and the arts was nurtured at home leading her to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Cantor Cohen earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. She went on to attend DePaul University, earning a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.
Believing that music is the universal language of prayer and spirituality, Cantor Cohen creates meaningful and inclusive services by honoring the musical traditions of the past and blending them with new and contemporary styles. Her attention to detail and dedication to musical excellence coupled with her impressive vocal ability and a wide range of knowledge in all genres have made for exciting and enriching music here at Beth-El Zedeck, both on and off the bima. Cantor Cohen has become famous for her fun-filled, one-of-a-kind Purim Shpiels and her many unique themed Shabbat services throughout the year such as Beatles Shabbat, our monthly Friday Night Live or BEZ and the Amazing Technicolor Shabbat. Cantor Cohen also enjoys teaching the Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and the Tefillah Lab in addition to a multitude of other ongoing classes and programs. She coordinates and directs our renowned High Holiday Choir, Yom Kippur Martyrology Service, youth and adult choirs and is always happy to provide trope training for potential Torah and Haftarah leyners.
Cantor Cohen’s rich soprano voice and honest performing has been featured in operas and concerts throughout the United States, Europe and Israel. She has worked in the field of Jewish music, education and counseling, community service and pulpit duties since 1996, serving Cantorial positions in Champaign, Chicago and St. Louis. She previously served Beth-El Zedeck as the Feigenbaum Director of Musical Arts from 2011-2015.
A proud supporter of local arts, Cantor Cohen presently serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel, Indiana. Cantor Cohen has also served on steering committees with the Indianapolis Opera and Indianapolis Children Choir. She is also active in organizing and participating in various community interfaith programs and events.
Cantor Cohen is a member of the Cantors Assembly’s CICA Program and looks forward to completing her studies. She is mentored by Hazzan Joanna Dulkin and Rabbi Dennis Sasso. Humbled to be part of such a dynamic clergy team, and serving as the first female Cantor at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Cantor Cohen takes great pride in sharing the many lifecycle events of such a longstanding and historical congregation. She and Dr. Marc Cohen are the proud parents of Sadie and Evan.