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Cantor Hayley Kobilinsky

Hayley’s journey to the cantorate began in childhood, singing in her synagogue’s children’s choir. She excelled in music, picking up several instruments and eventually beginning to sing professionally at the age of 10, the groundwork for her Ordination as a Cantor in 2005.

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My Bio

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, she began her formal cantorial training in 2000, receiving a Master of Sacred Music degree (2004) and Ordination (2005) from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She subsequently became a member of their adjunct faculty, teaching the music of the Three Festivals: Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. 

Hayley has served congregations in Manhattan, Westchester County, and New Jersey, and has done special programming, such as concerts, lectures, informal education, services, and workshops, in Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, California, Minnesota, Montreal, and Israel. She has taught nearly 600 bar and bat mitzvah students (plus several dozen more adult bar/bat mitzvah students) in her 15+ years as a cantor. 

Languages are a forte of Hayley’s, having studied Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Italian and German. She strives to teach about diverse Jewish traditions across the globe. One of her strong beliefs is that there is more than one way to be Jewish! There is no “more Jewish” or “less Jewish,” only many individuals at different points on a lifelong journey. Hayley is also a trained soferet (scribe), who writes mezuzot and other texts with feather quill and parchment. Finally, she is a mom, of one young man who will become bar mitzvah in 2023!

My Story

I have always loved Judaism. I loved the ritual of preparing holiday meals with my parents and grandparents, hearing the poetic words of prayers and the harmonies in the glorious music, and seeing the ark doors open to reveal the Torah scrolls inside. Since childhood, I have sought to learn more and more about our traditions.

As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, it has always been impressed upon me that the Jewish people must go on. And so, I continued past Hebrew school, bat mitzvah, and Confirmation, singing with my cantor in her various choirs, studying Yiddish in college, then returning to Hebrew, and finally deciding to become a cantor myself. 

Five years in cantorial school (including 1 year in Israel), were followed by 15 years…and counting…of teaching, celebrating, worshipping, counseling, singing, and more. And after preparing (and officiating for) just about 600 pre-teens for their bar and bat mitzvah services, now I am preparing some of those young adults for their weddings!

I look forward to working with your family on its Jewish explorations. I can assist with education for all ages, bat/bar mitzvah preparation and officiation, wedding counseling and officiation, conversion, baby-namings, and funerals.

My Philosophy

Once-in-a-lifetime events, such as bar/bat mitzvah, weddings, baby-namings, etc., can and should be unique and special, and I encourage and empower families with whom I work to play an active role in that process. I welcome families to help select readings, prayers, and melodies which they find meaningful.

There is so much more to Judaism than Chanukkah and Passover! As I teach, I love finding ways for people to find their niche within our shared tradition. Love art? Let’s discover Jewish symbols and stories in the works of Marc Chagall and Yaacov Agam. Love literature? I can’t wait to share with you my favorite stories by Chaim Potok and poems by Yehuda Amichai. Love cooking? Let’s bake challah together… or if you like, I will share with you my grandma’s secret ingredient that made her chicken soup the best. 

I assure you, I have interests outside of Judaism as well! But I must admit that I am always happiest when I find the intersection between those interests and Judaism, and I hope to help you find yours. 
I love traveling (in non-pandemic times!); I will never forget meeting the elderly lady who served as the kosher butcher in Dublin, Ireland. Let me give you tips on finding Jewish sites in your travels. I love Broadway, especially the shows with Jewish themes. Let me reveal to you which Broadway composer borrowed the melody of the Torah blessings for his hit song, or the Yiddish theater song that got translated into English and made it to the top of the charts, grossing $3 Million!

Every time we learn an interesting tidbit, the world of our beautiful heritage opens up to us. I can’t wait to explore new topics with you!

Contact Me

I'd love to speak with you about your vision for your Jewish event or milestone.

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