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Bio

Cantor Karen Neff Kumin

Cantor Karen Kumin (pronounced “k-yoo-min”) is thrilled to be part of the clergy team at Yavneh, Raleigh's “Jewish Renewal Community,” since April 2011. Since moving to Durham from Brooklyn, New York, in 2008, she has served as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor and Hebrew and Religious School teacher at The Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill and Judea Reform Congregation in Durham. She has also been a regular guest vocalist with Durham's own Freylach Time klezmer band.

From 2006-2008, “Cantor K” served at Temple Emanu-El in Edison, New Jersey, where she had the pleasure of sharing the bima with guest artists Dan Nichols, Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman, and Neshama Carlebach. From 2008-2011, she served as High Holy Day Cantor for Congregation B'nai Chaim in Morrison, Colorado. As a student, Cantor Kumin worked at the Village Temple in Manhattan, the Jewish Home and Hospital in the Bronx, and the Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey in Washington, New Jersey.

Cantor Kumin was ordained in 2006 at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Her Master’s thesis explored the Yiddish-English radio programs of the 1930s and ‘40s. For her senior recital, she recreated an old-time radio show, complete with announcers, guest artists, and a klezmer ensemble. Cantor K had the honor to perform a scaled-down version of her show for the legendary Hebrew Actors' Union on the Lower East Side of New York City.

Cantor Kumin is originally from the Philadelphia area, where she received Bachelor’s degrees in English Literature (from the University of Pennsylvania) and Voice Performance (from Temple University). While in Philadelphia, she played roles in various theater and opera productions. In 1998, Cantor Kumin became Bat Mitzvah with five other adults, and, soon afterward, traveled to Israel to study Hebrew and Jewish studies at the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) Program in the tiny desert town of Arad, to explore whether her long-time dream of becoming a “hazzan” would be possible. After an eye-opening and moving stay in Israel, she entered HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music (recently re-named The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music), and began the journey that has taken her to the Triangle.

Cantor K lives in Durham with her husband, Jeremy, and two very spoiled and much-loved dogs, both Shepherd mixes.