Cantorial Soloist Nancy Linder

Meet Cantorial Soloist Nancy Linder

Cantorial Soloist Nancy Linder has brought her extraordinary love of traditional and modern music to Temple Beth David, building upon a long tradition of musical riches at our synagogue.

The Cantor is a well-known singer of Jewish music, having performed at synagogues and Jewish community events throughout Southern California.

Prior to joining our clergy, she has been an accomplished choir director, music teacher, and musical theater performer. She has performed for several years as a soloist and musical director at the Simcha Fest at the Orange County Jewish Community Center, and at fundraising events for many Jewish organizations including Hadassah, Na’Amat, the Jewish Federation, the JCC and various synagogues. She has also sung frequently with the South Coast Simcha Band.

Cantor Linder grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and spent part of her Middle School years in Jerusalem. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida State University, with a degree in Music Performance and Theater. She received her Master’s Degree from Azusa Pacific University.

The Cantor enjoys living in Orange County with her husband Charles, son Nathan, and triplet boys – Sean, Evan and Miles.

Cantor Linder has recorded 4 solo albums – My Favorite Jewish Songs, Songs of the Jewish Spirit, and the newly released Songs for Shabbat, and Broadway Melodies. Information about her albums is available at


April 8, 2011 ~ Speech by Keri Gee Semmelman

On this very day, April 8, in the year 1730 the 1st Jewish congregation in the United States consecrated its synagogue, “Shearith Israel,” in New York City.

So, I think it is quite fitting that since most of us had our first interaction with Cantor Nancy Linder at a synagogue – that tonight be the night we formally dedicate a Shabbat to you, Nancy…and declare just how sacred you are to so many of us and to our synagogue.

Yet, I do have to admit, it’s kind of ironic that I’m up here talking about a person who among her greatest talents is that of a singer. Aside from my hardly ever agreeing with the choice of which singer wins “American Idol” each season, I come from a family who used to say that the best gift we could give anyone on their birthday was to NOT SING to them. Yet every singer needs ATTENTIVE audience members and every synagogue needs congregants …and that’s where I fit in – like many of you here tonight do.

When I think of you, Cantor Nancy, the first thing that comes to mind is the Miriam Song that you soulfully sing in your spirited fashion as you dance around the synagogue with fellow congregants of all ages. Miriam’s Song also makes for the perfect analogy when it comes to expressing the role you play here at Temple Beth David. You see, Miriam within our rich and often struggling Jewish history, led people through the parting Red Sea– guiding Jews in their exodus to freedom. You, Cantor Nancy are like OUR Miriam… especially on Shabbat when the week days part from the Sabbath — and when YOU guide us to a peaceful place to enjoy our own personal freedoms.

Probably the best quality I think you have is the ability to move our souls. You help wash away much of our stresses that have added up throughout the week. Your singing helps us to love being Jewish and to celebrate this fact. And, you and the melodies and songs you sing help us go back to ancient days within Jewish history. You teach us. You inspire us. You help us heal. And even help us deal…with our lives, our beliefs, our very beings.

As the German Jewish Poet and Author, Berthold Auerbach, once said, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” You, Cantor Nancy honestly do just that!

Cantor Nancy, along with your singing, it’s your smile that comes shining through and can automatically put people at ease. You have personally touched my life in many ways and put me at ease – during times of joy and in times of sorrow.

Most recently, just two weeks ago, you sang at the bedside of one of my closest cousins in his final days of living on this Earth and then again at his funeral this past weekend. To know some of the details surrounding this experience makes the story all the more poignant.

My cousin Dan loved your music – and for years he’d listen to your CDs often. And even though my cousin wasn’t a Temple Beth David congregant, you, without missing a beat said “yes” to me when I asked if you’d visit and sing to him. You did the same thing for him two years ago when you and Sable Cantus both came to Fullerton hospital to sing to him as he healed from surgery. Now back to two weeks ago, when you last saw my cousin he was very physically weak and confined to a bed. Yet as you sang, he found the strength to lift his arms up to give you a gentle applause – and then he put two thumbs up as if to say, “You’re TOP RATE, Nancy!” And just before you left his side, you sang to him the Sh’ma…and much to his children’s and grandchildren’s amazement he mouthed the words and then audibly began singing the Sh’ma with all of us. The way you moved him will forever bring my family a lifetime of comfort. Thank you for helping give him some freedom from his pain…and being part of his own exodus to eternal freedom. Thank you for giving him…the gift of you.

And the story gets even more touching. Because before you arrived at my cousin’s home, you shared with me that your father recently suffered ironically the same exact injury – a fractured neck.  For you to come and see and sing to my cousin Dan knowing your father was confronting the same injury – yet with some very different medical situations – was to me evidence of your soulful and deeply caring nature. And your unselfish courage. You’ve also been there to sing to our baby Aubree…at her baby naming at the temple and again at our home. And as soon as you heard of our bringing Aubree home from her long stay at the hospital, you came by with so many practical gift items. Elliot and I could tell that you took the time to put yourself in our shoes…to thoughtfully give us the items that we would most need on a daily basis for her very earliest of days. The ability to put yourself in our shoes was so appreciated – and is such a special quality you possess.

Amid all this evidence of the great person you are is the fact that you and your very dedicated and talented choir never rest on their laurels. You could sing the same prayerful songs every week….like I’ve heard at many other synagogues. But no, not you nor our choir. Each week you tie your prayer and song choices to the Torah portion, Rabbi’s sermon OR theme of the week based on the messages and lessons you want to convey. That takes a lot of extra work and you do that for us, your congregants. It makes coming to Synagogue an even greater pleasure.

I used to playfully say to G-d, “Wow, on the day I was born you must NOT have been dolling out the genes for singing.”  Yet then I found out that you, Cantor Nancy, and I share the same birth date. So I can’t use that excuse anymore! I’m just thankful you got that great gift from G-d! I am also very thankful that I have the ability to hear you sing. You see, back in 1999 a neurologist told me I’d soon lose my hearing completely and forever. If he had been right, then one of the sounds I would have most missed is that of you singing.

So I am especially happy and grateful to be able to join the congregation in recognizing you for your 10 years as our Cantor Soloist. Your voice, your heart, your smile, your friendship, and your zest for Judaism help makes Temple Beth David a very special place to experience, to relax, grow, learn, pray, and BE Jewish. Thank you so much for sharing your many gifts with us.