Cantor Karen Neff Kumin is originally from the Philadelphia area, where she received Bachelor’s degrees in both English Literature (University of Pennsylvania) and Voice Performance (Temple University). While in Philadelphia, she played roles in various theater and opera productions, including Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and Patience, Verdi’s Aida, and J. Strauss’s The Gypsy Baron. 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 decide whether her long-time dream of becoming a cantor would be possible. After an eye-opening and moving stay in Israel, she entered Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music (DFSSM) in Jerusalem and New York City. 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, which she also had the chance to perform in concert for the Hebrew Actors’ Union on the Lower East side of New York City. Cantor Kumin received a Master of Sacred Music degree in 2005 and was ordained at HUC-JIR New York in May, 2006. From 2006-2008, she served as congregational Cantor 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. While there, she staged some very successful concerts, one based on her Yiddish-English radio presentation, and another featuring Jewish music from all over the world. Cantor Kumin has also served as High Holy Day Cantor at Congregation Bnai Chaim in Morrison, Colorado from 2008-2011. While a student, she worked at the Village Temple in Manhattan, the Jewish Home and Hospital in the Bronx, and the Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey (JCNWJ) in Washington, New Jersey. Cantor Kumin lives with her husband, Jeremy, in Durham, North Carolina, and has served since 2011 as Cantor and Clergy Leader at Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community in Raleigh. She is available for lifecycle events such as weddings, funerals, and baby namings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutoring, and singing engagements.

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