The cantor from my home synagogue, who is my mentor and inspiration and good friend, emailed me today to tell me she was "let go." She is 61 years old, there are no pulpit jobs available in the STL area right now, and she is devastated. The rabbi and congregation president made the decision to keep all 3 rabbis on staff and let go of the cantor to earn back some of the huge deficit they've accumulated over the last few years (hiring that third rabbi when you couldn't afford him sure was a smart move, huh?)
I am devastated about this. Her job was her love, her family, her livelihood. She isn't married, her children are grown and living on their own, so her position really was the one thing that kept her going all this time. She so clearly loved every note she sang on the bimah, every student she taught, every word of Torah she so beautifully chanted. Now, at her 30th anniversary of service to the congregation, she's being disposed of. Just like that.
My synagogue has always been my escape, my place of refuge. Her voice has carried me from this crazy world straight to God on so many occasions. How can I go back there knowing she isn't there? How can I sing the happy-clappy crap melodies the assistant rabbi sings (out-of-tune, btw) knowing the cantor should be there and isn't? How can I go back there knowing that Jewish music is no longer an important part of the congregation I was once so proud to be a member of? I have a feeling this is the end of my tenure at this congregation--the congregation that I know by heart, that is filled to the brim with wonderful people and memories and so much spiritual and personal growth.
It makes so sad to think about that.
Rabbinical students who read this, please don't let this happen again. Find other ways to cut your budgets. Don't do the same disservice to your congregation that my rabbi is doing to mine.
I am livid right now. And instead of eating my feelings, I am writing about them...we'll see if it works.