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Hazzan Elisheva Dienstfrey

Whether she’s leading the congregation in prayer, helping a student or teaching a new melody, Elisheva Dienstfrey conveys the message that being a Hazzan is the world’s best work. A member of the class of 2000 of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s H. L. Miller Cantorial School, Hazzan Dienstfrey came to Agudas Achim fresh from graduate school, and has never looked back.

She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, singing in a children’s choir, led by her father, a radiologist. “People were always telling me that I should be a cantor,” Hazzan Dienstfrey says, but she didn’t take it seriously until Cantor Josh Perlman took her under his wing. Perlman taught her that a cantor’s job involves not only singing but also working with people in the community and being a “mentsch.”

Hazzan Dienstfrey majored in music and religious studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles. While living in L.A. she met her husband, Tobias, at a Hillel Shabbat service at the University of Judaism. “He asked me if I wanted an aliyah,” she recounts, thinking his offer was an interesting pick-up line. They were separated while she attended the first year of cantorial school at Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, where she studied Talmud, Hebrew, and Nusach. “The day after I returned from Israel, Tobias asked me to marry him,” the Hazzan says. They were married in 1998 after a two-year engagement.

Along with her musical talents, Hazzan Dienstfrey also has the distinction of being a female cantor with a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Influenced by the crime rate in Albuquerque, her mother decided to enroll both of her daughters (and herself) in self-defense classes, along with her son. Hazzan Dienstfrey still practices kickboxing and MMA (mixed martial arts) on her own.

In addition to her usual cantorial duties at Agudas Achim, Hazzan Dienstfrey has been a member of the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly, and an enthusiastic leader of the Agudas Achim house band, Ein Lanu Z’man (www.einlanuzman.com), We Have No Time.

The Hazzan and her husband have called Alexandria their home since July of 2000, and not only have become part of the Agudas Achim family, but have expanded their own little family by four – Margalit, Akiva, Dassi, and Lev. “We have so many blessings in our lives, and Agudas Achim has made that possible.”

Please stop by Agudas Achim to sing, pray, or learn, and introduce yourself to Hazzan Dienstfrey and her family. They’d love to meet you!

Hazzan Dienstfrey is happy to hear from you.

Sun, September 27 2020 9 Tishrei 5781