Member of Central Conference of American Rabbis
Member of American Conference of Cantors
Rabbi Cantor Raina Siroty grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in voice performance with highest honors from the University of California in Santa Barbara. Through the encouragement of one of her mentors, Cantor Evan Kent, she enrolled in the Cantorial program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York where she received a Masters in Sacred Music in 2009 and her cantorial ordination in 2010.
Raina served as the student Cantor at Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles, CA, Temple Beth El of Huntington, NY, Sinai Reform Temple in Bay Shore, NY and Temple Beth Miriam in Elberon, NJ. From 2010-12 she served the Toledo, Ohio Jewish community as the Cantor of Congregation Shomer Emunim.
Raina states, “Some of my most profound moments are from chanting the melodies of the High Holy Days’ services and, yet, I also cherished the quiet moments with congregants. My presence at their times of change, sometimes lasting only a few minutes, helped them feel understood when experiencing their grief, their fears or their loneliness. Also remarkable is the sharing of their joys: the birth of a child, a b’nai mitzvah, or a wedding anniversary. Those connections on this very personal level are deeply moving to me and, in my most introspective moments of reflection, I realized I am meant to serve a congregation in a myriad of ways, as a Hazzan and a Morah; a Cantor and a Rabbi.”
Raina adds, “With the role of clergy forever evolving to fill the needs of our congregations in today’s financial climate, there are so many smaller congregations who could barely afford a Rabbi, let alone a Rabbi and a Cantor. My goal is to serve a congregation and preserve Judaism at this fundamental level. I am able to do this best as a Rabbi and a Cantor.”
In 2012, Raina applied to the rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles to continue her studies to become a Rabbi. Her most recent five additional years of study have been spent as a rabbinical student where she had the opportunity for great personal, spiritual and religious growth as well as professional development. Raina received a Masters in Hebrew Letters in May 2014 and her rabbinical ordination in May 2017.
While attending rabbinical school, Raina interned as a chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, providing comfort to patients of all faiths, served Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills, CA as a Rabbinic Intern and at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as an Adjuct Professor of Synagogue Music and as a T’filah Advisor. Raina also served as an auxiliary Cantor at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, leading some services and well as an ongoing B’nai Mitzvah tutor and Cantor officiating at B’nai Mitzvah services. She also served yearly as a High Holy Day Cantor for several synagogues in need around the country, and in 2016 she served at Congregation Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she fell in love with the charm of Jewish life in the South.
Raina is most passionate about the power and spirituality of music in prayer. Raina shares, “Music, the pulse of Jewish spirituality, is the heart and soul of every service. It transcends the physical as it connects individuals one to another, forming a community. I embrace the opportunity to motivate and lead the congregation and religious school in prayer, and in music and song, to foster an experience that invites participation while enlivening worship and growing Jewish identity. I add my unique voice to the collective voice, bringing with me my enthusiasm and passion for both Judaism and music.”
“I will sing to Adonai as long as I live; all my life I will chant hymns to my God. May my prayer be pleasing to God, I will rejoice in Adonai.”
RABBI ARNOLD S. TASK - "Arny" to most everyone - served 22 years as Rabbi of Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim, from 1989 to 2011. On retirement, he was named Rabbi Emeritus. He and his wife Judy elected to continue their residence in Alexandria, where they are actively involved in many aspects of our community.
Rabbi Task is a Rotarian, and was awarded the Four Avenues of Service Award in 2007. He has served as President of the Central LA Minister's Association, the Family Counseling Agency, Angel Care, and the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum. For almost 40 years, he has lectured and taught Judaism and Holocaust studies at the college level. In fact his life's work and his legacy includes the teaching of Holocaust studies to students and adults; he co-hosts the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, and has played a major role in the planning, funding and finally, the realization of a Holocaust Memorial in downtown Alexandria, LA.
RABBI MARTIN ISAIAH HINCHIN served our Congregation from 1958 to 1988, and our memories are fond ones. Hinchin is currently living in Memphis where he moved after his retirement. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, Rabbi Hinchin was born and raised in Philadelphia. After his ordination, Hinchin served Jewish congregations in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, where he served our Congregation as Rabbi for 31 years. “’I fell in love with the people of the South,’ said Hinchin. Along the way he met such historic and beloved Southern figures as a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Louisiana’s “singing governor” Jimmie Davis, and Huey Long’s “crazy” brother, former governor Earl K. Long, “He called me ‘Preacher."
One of Hinchin's finest achievements was his book, "Fourscore and Eleven", History of the Jews of Rapides Parish from 1828 to 1919, which he completed in 1984 in time for the celebration of our Congregation’s 125th Birthday. It is a collection of historical records, legal deeds and documents, generous newspaper accounts of social and life cycle events, and a sign of the times of each of the years covered by the book. If you would like a copy; they are $15. each. Please contact the Temple office.