Cantor Leslie Niren is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance and a certificate in music education from Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduation, while performing some cantorial duties at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Florida, she developed an affinity for congregational life and the desire to become a cantor.
Ordained as a cantor in May 2013 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, Cantor Niren also holds a master’s degree in sacred music from the School of Sacred Music. While in cantorial school, she worked in various roles, particularly with youth, at Temple Israel and Central Synagogue in New York City, as well as serving as student cantor at Temple Beth El in Fort Worth. She also completed a unit of clinical pastoral education, working as a chaplain intern at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
For her thesis, Israeli Fusion: The Convergence of Sacred and Secular in Music and Prayer, Cantor Niren explored her passion for Israel and Israeli music. This work continues in her use of innovative repertoire and her desire to fuse Israeli culture with American Reform Judaism. She frequently fundraises for and participates in Riding for Reform, a five-day bike ride in Israel, which benefits the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.
In addition to pastoral, education and life cycle responsibilities, Cantor Niren plays an integral role in Temple’s worship experiences, infusing our services with melodies that evoke a strong sense of spiritual expression. As a prayer leader, she opens hearts, minds and souls through the transformative power of music.
With her creativity and dynamic personality, Cantor Niren engages with young adults at Temple, the teen songleading cohort and young families. She is enthusiastically developing a vibrant music curriculum for our religious school children that will instill Jewish themes and values from an early age.
Cantor Niren brings joyous energy to her cantorate, and believes deeply in the power of music to both uplift the spirit and create quiet places for connection with God.
Contact Cantor Niren’s assistant, Martha Bowden, at firstname.lastname@example.org.