• Bulletin
  • News
  • clergy

Our congregation joyously celebrated the installation of Cantor Lisa Peicott as our new Senior Cantor on January 26, 2024. As she embarks on this new chapter, we asked Cantor Peicott a few questions, delving into what inspires her on the bimah and her vision for the future of music and musical programming at the Temple.

What is your vision for music and music programs at the Temple and in the schools?

“Jewish music” is a reflection of the historical, sociological, and religious experiences in which Jews live. Whether it was the organ and choir of Western Europe or the folksy guitar style of the American Jewish experience of the 1960s, our synagogue music is greatly influenced by the world that Jews inhabit. Understanding that, my vision is for the rich musical landscape of our tradition to coexist comfortably with contemporary synagogue music, and within a service in the year 2024 and beyond. Just as we are constantly engaging with our past texts to better understand our present and our future, a musical understanding of our past, I believe, paves the way for a rich musical future and a greater perception of who we are as American Jews, and how we express that in our prayer services. My job as a cantor is to connect people to our tradition, to their emotions, to themselves, and to one another through music—whether in the form of a traditional chazanut (cantorial recitative), a nigun (wordless melody), a popular song on the radio, or even your favorite Disney hit—in services or inspiring the next generation in our Wilshire Boulevard Temple schools. We are a living and evolving tradition that is steeped and knowledgeable of our past, and our musical/prayer expression should be no different.

Within the context of a service, what is your current favorite piece of music and why?

My favorite piece of liturgical music changes from day to day, depending on how I feel and what is going on in the world. Since October 7 and the ongoing war, our prayers for peace (Sim Shalom, Shalom Rav, Hashkiveinu,andOseh Shalom) are particularly meaningful. We have all experienced in our own ways and truly feel the brokenness of the world around us, and so many composers have beautifully captured the essence of a people longing for peace.

At what point did you realize that you wanted to become a cantor?

In 2012, I was asked to sing in a concert in which my cantor was debuting a new l’dor v’dor that he had composed. The concert was the MaxHelfman Composers concert, and it was being held in Piness Auditorium of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. It was the first time I interacted with cantors and Jewish musicians, and it was an incredible experience working with what ended up being my colleagues. After the concert, I went into the ladies' room, and a young woman—I do not recall her name—introduced herself as a young rabbinic student. She said, “I don’t know what you do for a living, but your neshama (soul)shines through when you sing. You should be a cantor, the Jewish people need you.” In that moment, something clicked, and I went home and told my now husband, then boyfriend, that I was going to be a cantor. I searched schools online and found the Academy for Jewish Religion. I called them the very next day, and the rest is history...


What attracted you to this role in life?


Once I readily accepted this path in my life, I realized it combined all of the parts of my personality: my love of people, my love of music, my love of children, and my love of connecting other people to the richness of Jewish tradition and to one another. It just took me a while to realize it.


When not on the bimah, what do you listen to?

I once read a study that said that your musical taste never really evolves much past your teens.I am a true millennial and very much enjoy listening to the music of my childhood/teens, so think early ’90s/2000s pop and rock. Although, I do enjoy a good KUSC broadcast of the metropolitan Opera every now and then