Engaging Prayer Leader
Praised for her “blithe, welcoming voice,” (Chicago Classical Review), Cantor Lauren Phillips has served Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT since July 2016. She was ordained as cantor from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2013 and holds degrees from Tufts University and The Boston Conservatory. Cantor Phillips has previously served as cantor at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI as well as student cantor at Union Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Brooklyn, NY. Highlights from her time in Milwaukee include founding the award-winning Sinai in the City program for young professionals, founding and directing the Kol Simcha youth band, and singing the National Anthem at a Brewers game.
In addition to being an accomplished prayer leader and musician, Cantor Phillips has a diverse portfolio of expertise in many areas, including formal and informal education, B'nai Mitzvah preparation, pastoral counseling, and media relations. A dynamic and innovative educator, Cantor Phillips taught her B'nai Mitzvah students at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan to embrace the responsibility of serving as Shaliach Tzibur. During the summer of 2012, she continued this work as Rosh Tefillah for a National Federation for Temple Youth (NFTY) trip to Israel, Poland, and the Czech Republic. With NFTY in Israel, Cantor Phillips mentored a unit of 160 teenagers from around the United States and Canada in service leadership, guiding them towards creating meaningful moments of communal worship. Cantor Phillips' work with NFTY drew upon her pastoral counseling skills, which she honed during the summer of 2011 while completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. During this time, she served as chaplain intern in the Breast Cancer and Gynecology Unit, helping patients cope through some of life's most difficult challenges.
At HUC-JIR, Cantor Phillips presented a capstone thesis and recital called, “A Stranger Here Myself: The Postcard Project as an Exploration of Jewish Musical Identity.” The program explored an initiative from the 1930s in which prominent Jewish composers arranged Israeli folk songs that were printed on postcards by the Jewish National Fund. The postcards were created to inspire Jews in the Diaspora to make aliyah, and the songs were among the first examples of secular Hebrew music to reach Europe. In the summer of 2013, Cantor Phillips was honored to teach and present excerpts of this program at the North American Jewish Choral Festival, held annually in the Catskills.
Cantor Phillips has enjoyed a strong relationship with the world-renowned 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, where she has worked both as a Jewish educator and as a publicist. Her responsibilities at the Y included serving as a press liaison for major speakers and events, teaching and developing a curriculum for the second grade class in the pluralistic Connect Jewish After School program, and leading the Y's adult seder for over 100 guests. During the 2009-2010 school year, Lauren served as student cantor for Port Jewish Center, located just a few miles from her hometown of Great Neck, NY. She has also appeared as a cantorial guest at her home synagogue, Temple Israel of Great Neck, and at numerous other congregations in the US, Canada, and Israel.
Cantor Phillips has performed with Shir Chadash: The Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus, where she sang the soprano solo in Souls on Fire, an oratorio which tells stories about the masters of Chasidic Judaism. She also participated in a service and gala concert celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of the beloved synagogue composer Max Janowski at KAM-Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago. An alumna of Hazamir: The National Jewish High School Choir, Cantor Phillips has performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center and currently serves as a member of the Hazamir Alumni Council and as consultant to the Hartford chapter of Hazamir.
Cantor Phillips is excited to serve the Jewish community and brings to her cantorate an abundant sense of warmth, sincerity, and passion.