ACC to honor Cantor Shivers
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2010-06-01T00:00:00
Cantor Linda Shivers will be honored by the American Conference of Cantors for 25 years in the cantorate at their annual convention in Memphis, June 27-July 1.
Currently the religious school principal for Portland’s Congregation P’nai Or, Shivers served as the cantor for Congregation Neveh Shalom for 23 years.
Shivers graduated in 1984 from Jewish Theological Seminary with a bachelor’s degree in sacred music before the school graduated female cantors. She received her “Diploma of Hazzan” in 1987, when the school officially graduated women as cantors.
“I am really excited about this honor,” she said. “The ACC is the professional organization for invested cantors in the Reform movement. I’ve been a member of the ACC because at the time I finished cantorial school, the Conservative cantor’s organization, the Cantors Assembly, was not admitting women.”
However, the ACC allows graduates of the JTS to join the ACC through a reciprocity agreeent.
“The year that Linda entered the ACC, she was the only woman cantor who entered via ‘reciprocity,’ ” said Rachel Roth, ACC managing director.
Roth said that the ACC first admitted a woman in 1975 when Cantor Barbara J. Ostfeld was invested from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music. Now 254 of the ACC’s approximately 450 members are women.
“I realized that I liked the ACC because of its modern outlook and its total acceptance of women and its openness to innovation,” said Shivers.
Shivers is one of several cantors who will be honored this year. Each year, the ACC honors those cantors who have been a member of the ACC for 50, 40 and 25 years. This year, three cantors will be honored for 40 years of service and 14 will be honored for 25 years of service.
The plaque presented to Shivers will read: “The American Conference of Cantors presents the Shliach Tzibbur Award to Cantor Linda Shivers in recognition of twenty-five years of devoted service to Judaism and the cantorate.”
During her tenure at Neveh Shalom, Shivers not only led prayer services, she also tutored bar and bat mitzvah students and implemented having girls do the same ceremony as boys. She also launched a variety of choirs and coordinated youth talent shows.
She is known for bringing many national and international performers to town. She organized the Performing Arts Festival for nearly a decade. Artists such as Debbie Friedman, Europe’s number one klezmer band Kol Simcha and several famous cantors performed in the series that was co-sponsored by Neveh Shalom and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
She helped coordinate the Bloch Festival in 1987 and at the request of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer organized a concert by pianist Allan Sternfield.
In 1988, she planned a regional conference titled “Women in Jewish Music.” She also co-chaired an ACC regional conference with Cantor Barbara Slader.
Shivers has been a force in the broader religious community. She attended the first gathering of the Portland Clergy Women in 1990 and has remained an active participant. Most recently, she spoke on “Integrity and Hunger” at the May 5 meeting of the Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger.
Now at P’nai Or, Shivers leads the Renewal congregation’s Simcha Sunday and Wednesday night education programs.
While most religious schools now offer experiential learning, Shivers said, “At P’nai Or, we want to be more experiential—we are planning lots of family field trips for next year. Education is family education. … I’m working hard to make P’nai Or’s religious school a jewel of the Jewish community.”