Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, Professor of Cantorial Arts in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music (DFSSM), has been appointed the Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. This chair, which was established by Barbara and Stephen Friedman and previously was known as the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual, was first held by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., and renamed in in Rabbi Hoffman’s honor upon his retirement in 2019.
Richard Cohn, DFSSM Director, stated, “Cantor Schiller’s profound lifelong vocation of transmitting prayer and practice through word and song fills the heart of our purposeful and sacred community.”
Cantor Schiller’s work involves training cantorial and rabbinical students to bridge the gap between performance and spiritual leadership. A nationally known composer of contemporary Jewish liturgical music, her works include “Life-Song Cycle,” a series of pieces for Jewish life passage ceremonies; “Halleluhu,” a multi-rhythmic setting of Psalm 150; “Lamdeini;” “You are My Song;” “U’kratem D’ror- Proclaim Liberty,” an American/Jewish response to 9/11, and various commissioned works for choirs, synagogues and interfaith liturgical groups. A World Fulfilled, a solo recording of her compositions, was released in 2002.
Most recently, Transcontinental Music Publications published Azamrah: Songs of Benjie Ellen Schiller. This collection of Cantor Schiller’s songs offer a uniquely Jewish sense of prayerfulness and invoke feelings of wonder and awe for our spiritual wanderings. Representing most of Cantor Schiller’s beloved catalog of songs, it offers Jewish music for communal worship, life cycle, and concert use, including duets, trios, and choral use. Source texts help make these songs perfect selections for special services, tributes, anthems, concert celebrations, and more.
Cantor Schiller serves as a faculty consultant for the Union for Reform Judaism, and a part time faculty member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality Rabbinic program and the North American Jewish Choral Festival. She also serves as cantor of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue of White Plains, New York with her husband, Rabbi Lester Bronstein.