The Jewish Theological Seminary: What made you decide to attend H. L. Miller Cantorial School at JTS?
Jenna Daniels: I have wanted to become a cantor since the third grade. My hometown cantor, Norman Brody, discovered my ability to sing when I was very young. He got me involved in my West Palm Beach synagogue, singing in choirs and with him on the bimah; this inspired me to become a cantor and attend the H. L. Miller Cantorial School.
JTS: What do you enjoy most about studying at JTS?
JD: I enjoy interacting with the diverse students here at JTS. My classmates all come from different backgrounds. For some students, this is their first career; and for others, this is a second or third career. It is not only interesting to interact with students who are different from me, but I have also learned many things from them outside of the classroom.
JTS: Tell us about your favorite class.
JD: One of my favorite classes is Coaching, in which students get to work one-on-one with a different cantor each year. I really enjoy this class, because each cantor has his or her own style and flavor. This allows me to really experiment with my davening and recitatives, so that I can eventually take pieces from each cantor and develop my own individual style.
JTS: What person at JTS has had the greatest impact on you so far?
JD: Cantor Lawrence Avery. He was my first coach here at JTS. Not only is he extremely talented and full of information, but he was always my biggest supporter. He presented me with challenges, and was always the first person to commend me when I overcame them. He also exudes characteristics that I believe make up an ideal cantor. He is a warm, loving, and compassionate human being, and I hope to be a cantor that shares these wonderful characteristics.
JTS: What are your professional goals?
JD: My professional goals are to become a cantor educator; I am also getting an MA in Jewish Education here at JTS. In addition to educating both off and on the bimah, I hope to create meaningful and spiritual connections for a community through music. I believe that music is easily accessible, and is what guides us in all types of prayer and spiritual connections to Hashem.
JTS: What has been the best JTS "moment" for you, so far?
JD: I really enjoy JTS's Commencement Exercises. Graduation is an exciting time, and as a cantorial student, I get to sing in the choir at the ceremony. It is always a special moment to sing with the graduating class one last time. It makes me really look forward to when my class graduates.
JTS: Name your favorite place on campus.
JD: The courtyard, because it is in the center of campus, and is so green.
JTS: Have you gone to Israel as part of your JTS training? What was that experience like?
JD: I went to Israel for my first year as a cantorial student. My experience in Israel was an interesting one: my uncle made aliyah in 1981 and lives in Beit-El, which is in the West Bank, so during my time in Israel, I spent a lot of time with my aunt, uncle, and six cousins. It had always been difficult being so far away from them and only seeing them once every few years. We spent a lot of time together when I was there, and as a result, we bonded and got much closer.