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Women Cantors’ Network Conference
June 15-18, 2020
Temple B’nai Israel,  Oklahoma City,  OK

“Filling the Empty Chair:  Strength & Blessing in Community”

Women Cantors Logo


Conferences are the highlight of our year. They help us come together as a community of cantors, singers, spiritual leaders, teachers, and friends. As we have grown over the years since 1982, our conferences have evolved into a multi day experience of prayer, learning, song and spirit. Our tefillot are moving and meaningful—a musical feast that opens our hearts and minds to new possibilities.
Workshops by peers, mentors, and nationally recognized experts enrich our cantorate and help us grow and evolve.

The healing circle, during which we express our gratitude for the Women Cantors’ Network in our lives, helps us leave with a greater sense of purpose and a resolve to stay involved and close during the year.

Co-chairs: Linda Matorin Sweenie and Debby Lewis
Conference Committee:Ilana Axel, Diane Weil, Sally Heckelman, Gail Nalven, Sharon Hordes

2020 Presenters TBD

Registration fees do not cover lodging.  Please make your lodging reservation separately from our registration process.

Lodging will be the Sonesta ES Suites Parsippany.

There are 22 one-bedroom suites with 2 double beds, at $139/night, and 18 one-bedroom suites with 1 king bed, at $129/night.  Rooms include full kitchens, and a full breakfast each morning.

The one bedroom suites include a pull-out sofa bed, so people can triple if they wish, or two friends can share a king suite if one wishes to take the pull-out (or if they are happy to share a king bed.)

Please book your room for Monday, June 17 — Thursday, June 20  (Sunday, June 16 is for members of the WCN Board.)


Here are some things you may want to bring with you to the conference:

  • Worship needs: Tallit/kippah/tefillin
  • Preferred prayer book (copies of Sim Shalom and Mishkan Tefillah will be available, but if you daven from another, please bring it)
  • A sweater for inside the building
  • Bag or backpack
  • Water bottle
  • Umbrella
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Recording devices
  • Chargers
  • Instruments
  • Any copies you might need if you’re presenting a workshop, or leading tefillah (we are expecting 100 guests).
  • Conference attire is casual and comfortable, however you define that!  Business casual attire is kindly requested for those leading services and/or workshops.


WCN 2019 Workshop Descriptions

Keynote: Kehillah Shlemah – How we Build Community

Creating whole and complete communities, from our congregations to our Jewish community agencies, is our ultimate goal. We have big ideas and expectations for our kehillah
shlemah. What do we need to do to get there? How do we welcome those who are not coming through our doors? And how do we know who we are missing?

Building Inclusive Congregational Communities (breakout sessions)
What would a fully inclusive congregation look like? Take a look within at the good work each of our congregations are doing. Learn how we can work with our congregants to better identify individual interests and needs. Learn what our congregations can do to differently to meet the needs of our families and begin to prioritize those goals.

Hesped/Shiva Workshop: A workshop on how to conduct a sensitive, productive, intake interview of grieving relatives, in order to write and deliver a meaningful and sensitive hesped/eulogy. Included in this presentation would be how to conduct a creative and meaningful shiva minyan.


Aicha Cantillation

Learn to chant the Book of Lamentations for Tisha B’Av. We will learn this system for Aicha, as well as the special melody for chapter 3. We will also sing some settings of some of the verses from Lamentations as well as other liturgy which is usually sung in conjunction with a Tisha B’Av service. You will be provided with the musical notation for this trope system, as well as text excerpts. If you would like to purchase a CD of the music of the tropes, they are available at $10 each. You are also welcome to record our workshop.

DIY Percussion Workshop: Make it! Play it!

Beth Hamon, a professional percussionist and music educator, shows you how simple household items and found objects can be turned into percussion instruments for pennies on the dollar of what the factory-made instruments would cost. After we make a few instruments, Beth will facilitate a Rhythm Jam so you can try out what you just created! This is a great opportunity for intergenerational programming back home, since it appeals to all ages. All materials will be provided, and everyone will have a chance to make something to take home.

Stitch & Kvitch: Challah Cover Project using Swedish Weaving (Materials fee: $20)
Learn a few basic stitches including a Jewish star for a hand crafted embroidered challah cover. Swedish Weaving is the technique, and the fabric is often called “huck”. Once you learn huck embroidery you’ll be a WCN Mother Hucker! It is an addicting and relaxing craft that can create heirloom tallitot, challah covers, table runners and more. All materials will be provided- 20.00 fee. If you want to match your dishes please bring 4 skeins of DMC Pearl Cotton #5 threads- A dark, medium and light of any color looks great – Michael’s crafts store or an embroidery store will have the threads. You can also order them from nordicneedle.com

Ukelele for All

This wonderful, pain free instrument marched into my life and in its understated, demure way fulfilled me on my Jewish musical journey. It is delightful and the more you hear what others and even you can do with it, the more you’ll fall in love. I am offering this hour long workshop


to introduce our friends to the feel good possibilities of ukulele. We will find our way around the instrument, learn a couple chords, strum and sing. That’s really all you need. Suggestions on great sing-along ukulele books and other resources for the ukulele will be shared. We will have quite a few ukuleles on hand so please join us!

Commissioned Work

Anita Schubert’s composition pairs verses from Kabbalat Shabbat Psalm 96, in Hebrew and English, with an English text I crafted honoring Israel in its 70th year. There are many references pertaining to the number 70 in the Tanach, several of which are included in the English lyrics. What they have in common suggests the idea of completion and totality. As Israel is now experiencing its 70th year, it is no longer struggling to survive, and has taken its place among the nations of the world. Now, it must turn to a new goal: spreading Torah values to those nations. The melody is upbeat. Anita will be presenting the solo version in the workshop; we will hear the choral version [SSA] at the concert.


A Shacharit Learners’ Service (with a little something for all!)
We will journey through the weekday morning service, incorporating traditional Nusach and learning how to weave contemporary melodies into this rubric. Information about the structure of the service, meaning of prayers, transitions in Nusach and service choreography will all be considered. Our hope is to bring a fresh perspective to the traditional prayer experience for both the novice and veteran davener.

Panel Discussion: Imas on the Bimah

How many of us have struggled to find a balance between family and work life? This panel will be a chance to hear from our fellow “Cantor/Moms” from across the generational spectrum about the challenges they have faced and what types of solutions they have come up with to feel successful in both areas of their lives.

Self Care

Nina Paris, an OT specializing in performing arts injuries and rehabilitation, will help us understand simple anatomy and body mechanics, discuss injury prevention techniques such as Alexander Technique and Feldenkreis, and explain how to identify signs and symptoms of performance-related problems, manage problems, and prevent re-injury.


Featuring selections from Kol Isha, the new songbook from the Women Cantors’ Network, our concert explores the many ways spiritual and religious texts can uplift and energize us, and also provide comfort and catharsis. This variety of songs and musical styles composed by members of the Women Cantors’ Network will offer something for every listener, to help them find a “way in” to their own journey.


Sacred Text Study: Conventional and Creative Approaches

In this session we will explore and engage in various approaches to text study – from the traditional to the more creative (including music of course!).

Sonesta ES Parsippany
61 Interpace Pkwy
Parsippany, NJ 07054

  • BY AIR:
    • From Newark Liberty International Airport
      Distance: 26.5 miles WEST to the hotel
      Take Interstate 78 West to Exit 48 (Routes 24&124). Take Rt. 24 West to Interstate 287 North and continue to Exit 41B (Route 80W). From 80W, exit at 42B (Cherry Hill Rd). Turn left at the first traffic light (Interpace Parkway). The hotel will be on the left.
    • From LaGuardia Airport
      Distance: 41.1 miles WEST to the hotel
      Head west on Central Terminal Dr and follow to LaGuardia Rd. Once on LaGuardia Rd, keep right and continue toward LaGuardia Access Rd. Take ramp on left onto Grand Central Pkwy and continue onto I-278E, a partial toll road. Take Exit 47 on left for I-87N/Major Deegan Expressway toward Albany. Follow signs for Exit 7S (left exit) for I-95S/US1S toward George Washington Bridge/Trenton. Follow I-95 Express S to I-80 Express W. Follow signs for I-80 Express W/Garden State Pkwy/Patterson. After about 21 miles, take Exit 42B toward US-46/Parsippany. Merge onto Cherry Hill Rd. Turn left at the first traffic light (Interpace Parkway). The hotel will be on the left.
    • JFK International
      Distance: 52.1 miles WEST to the hotel
      Heading northeast, take the ramp to Airport Exit and merge onto JFK Access Rd. Continue onto Van Wyck Expwy and onto I-678N, a partial toll road. After about 13.5 miles, get on I-95N toward New England. Take Exit 195W on the left and follow signs onto I-95S. Follow I-95 Express S to I-80 Express W. Follow signs for I-80 Express W/Garden State Pkwy/Patterson. After about 21 miles, take Exit 42B toward US-46/Parsippany. Merge onto Cherry Hill Rd. Turn left at the first traffic light (Interpace Parkway). The hotel will be on the left.
    • By Train, from Morris Plains Station, NJ Transit
      Distance: 4.0 miles SOUTH to hotel
    • Taxi Charge (one way): $25.00
      Take Rt. 202 N for about 4 miles. After crossing under I-80, turn left at the first traffic light (Interpace Parkway). The hotel will be on the left.
  • MORE INFORMATION ON GETTING TO THE HOTEL: see: https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Newark-Airport-EWR/Sonesta-ES-Suites-Parsippany

Adath Shalom
841 Mountain Way
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Phone: 973-539-8549

    • TBA

Copyright Policy: Women Cantors’ Network
April 2015

The WCN is an organization that respects music and musicians and composers. It is our responsibility as carriers of Jewish music traditions to adhere to both the letter of the civil law, as well as Torah law, when it comes to copyright. The following are the rules for music usage, sharing and performance:

Part I: Copyright Rules at Conferences:

Written Music:

Permission to use music at the conferences is required. This includes at T’filah, unless the piece is in public domain. The individual composer or arranger will let you know if they require licensing and fees.

All music that is disseminated at the WCN Conference and must be clearly labeled: “WCN – For one-time use only. Copying not permitted.”

Note: this goes for written music and for chord/guitar tablature, as well as well as electronic sharing: overhead/power point presentations, tablets or any electronic or digitized forms. This is solely the responsibility of the person sharing the music at a conference in any form: worship, sessions/workshops or song/niggun share.

In addition, post-conference, none of the written music may be copied, re-used, shared, posted, given away or sent in any form without express written permission of the composer/arranger. Again, the onus falls to the person presenting/performing the piece of music.

Conference Concert performances:

Due diligence must be used in obtaining permission and licensing, if required, by the composer/arranger, to sing a piece in concert or performance – whether or not a fee is charged for attendance.

T’filah/Worship Services:

Singing at a worship service falls under Fair Use for churches and only the performance of the music is covered, not a song sheet with lyrics only, or a power point, or other electronic use. Permission/licensing (as above) is required for pieces that are used under other conditions. Under Fair Use law, you may make a copy for an accompanist, but that copy is not allowed to be used again after the performance.


The laws regarding streaming are very complex and are changing constantly. As we do not have a clearinghouse (such as BMI or ASCAP) that polices and pays Jewish composers, it is recommended that we do not stream anything at the conference. Legal experts are divided on this, and, in the absence of a clear mandate, our tradition calls on us to be cautious, and err on the side of NOT stealing someone’s work.

Note: Fair Use covers only “brick and mortar” performances – in the actual building of the worship service. Once it leaves the building (via the web, for example), no matter whether you are making money or not, you are breaking copyright law. The lack of money changing hands does not negate the fact that you cannot broadcast, disseminate or share music that you do not own the copyright to.

Part II: List-Serve and Sharing:

“Does anyone have a copy of…?”

It is against the law to give someone else music that is not yours. Period. We have many resources at the WCN, and requests for music can and should be followed up with links to these resources: “Hey, I love and use So-and-So’s V’shamru. Here is how you can reach her,” or “you can find it on OySongs or with Hal Leonard or HaZamir Publications…” or hundreds of others. Requesting chords to a song, without requesting written music should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Please use your discretion. Ideally, all requests should be forwarded directly to the composer or publishing company.

“My office was just moved and I have in it a box, but can’t find it and I need it by tonight!”

Again, please use your discretion – if they already own it, it falls under Fair Use.

The easiest law to remember: If you don’t own it, you can’t share it. Go directly to the composer/arranger – most in the Jewish music world are overjoyed to share! Adrian Durlester is compiling a list of composers and publishers that he is happy to share with the WCN at a future date.

Respectfully submitted,

Robbi Sherwin, Vice President
Women Cantors’ Network

2019 Conference Registration - 2020 Prices TBD

  • $275 Full Conference until Jun. 1
  • $300 Late Registration Full Conference after Jun. 1
  • $325 Walk-Ins, Full Conference
  • $175 Student Full Conference
  • $120 One Day
  • $50 Student One Day
  • $100 Student Two Day
2020 Conference Schedule
Workshop Descriptions
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