Volunteer of the Month: Deborah Hartman
Cantor Deborah Hartman is the cantor at The Temple in Atlanta, Georgia. She was certified in 1998.
In what capacity have you volunteered for the ACC? Were you asked, or did you volunteer on your own?
Most recently, I was a Tefilah Committee co-chair for the 2015 Ft. Lauderdale convention alongside Cantor Leslie Niren and Judy Cole. I did not volunteer but rather, was recruited by dear friend Cantor Lisa Segal, convention co-chair, to whom I would never say no! As much work as it was, it was truly a rewarding venture which bore abundant fruit at convention for us as chairs, and for the entire membership of the ACC/GTM. Since I did not go the Israel for the 2014 convention, having a significant role in 2015 gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of colleagues and introduced me via email and phone to those I had not yet met. By the time convention came along, I felt as though all our tefilah leaders were old friends.
Given your experience, what is the best part of being a Cantor?
Without question the best parts of what I do are the people I work with and the people we serve. I am extremely fortunate to partner with exceptionally talented Rabbis and senior staff here at The Temple. It is a privilege to be part of this community and to work with our diverse and large membership. I have been in my pulpit since 1987, first as a soloist, and then as a certified Cantor. I cannot imagine a career more rewarding or fulfilling.
What made you decide to be a Cantor? Was there someone at your synagogue while you were growing up that influenced you?
In 1969, I was a Confirmation student of Cantor Louis Davidson at Temple Emanu-El in Livingston, N.J., and was the one chosen to sing Mi Chamocha for our service. I remember being very nervous - as I had never sung in Hebrew before, and I remember my grandmother Ruth, of blessed memory, clapping vigorously when I had finished! The physical momento that I carry with me is the manuscript written in Cantor Davidson’s own hand, of Mi Chamocha in Akdamut mode. It is now framed and proudly displayed in my office with the caption “With thanks to Cantor Louis Davidson for providing me my first opportunity to sing from the bima.”
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the cantorate now and looking into the future?
Rather than challenges, I see so many more opportunities now for students to enter the cantorate then when I was in school. I graduated from Ithaca College in 1975 – just around the time that Cantor Barbara Ostfeld was paving the way for all of us women to follow in her footsteps. As much as I enjoyed my Mi Chamocha moment back in 1969, I never entertained the idea of becoming a Cantor at that time because that path simply did not exist. I now see endless opportunities for men and women to thrive in the cantorate and to live lives filled with purpose, joy, meaning and substance.
Tell us something about yourself that we may not know.
I am the proud grandmother of two precious grandchildren and am eagerly expecting # 3!