She invites me to sit down while her baby daughter plays on the floor. She and her wife are finishing up a laugh while trading the daily details that come with having two young children. As her wife leaves, Cantor De Lowe tosses her the keys to the car and prepares to start her day.
As the Associate Cantor at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Cantor De Lowe wears many hats. This is her ninth year at the temple and her passion for both her job and her students is palpable. In addition to the mighty task of leading services on Friday night and Saturday morning, Cantor De Lowe helps run the Adult Volunteer Choir. Music is a passion, she explains, and she’s always looking for new songs to integrate into services. “By using creative music,” she notes, “services become more fun.”
This year Cantor De Lowe started an American Sign Language choir, open to both day school students and congregants. As her own son is deaf, she tells me how she has learned sign language in the last two years and that she is loving this “powerful combination of signing and singing.” The children practice both on a weekly basis.
Cantor De Lowe interacts with RSS students in a variety of ways over the years. She celebrates Kabbalat Shabbat with the Pre-Kindergarten, teaches a trope (cantillation) class to sixth graders, and works with many students one-on-one in preparation for their B’nai Mitzvah.
Rabbi Robert Levine is the Senior Rabbi at CRS and after thirty-six years, he clearly still loves his job. His passion and his energy are evident throughout our phone conversation, which was peppered with laughs.
It doesn’t take long for the enormity of his job to become apparent. As the spiritual leader of a large and vibrant congregation—CRS boasts more than 1800 families—he officiates many life cycle events, serves on numerous committees both within the congregation and in the broader community, and is currently working on the temple’s Capital Campaign.
It is impossible to sum up in words the most important role he fills. Simply put, Rabbi Levine is the heart and soul of CRS. He often talks of how the “magic of CRS” is the community and its people, but his congregants know that the magic starts with his leadership. He notes that it’s very easy to feel a part of our community, and he sees it as his job to engage people and make them feel a part of something. He speaks about including young families just joining the temple, either at High Holiday Services or the PJ Pajama Parties, so they instantly feel welcomed. “Anyone who wants to feel the power of this community has full access,” he notes.
His involvement with and influence on RSS and its students is vast. He describes RSS as being special because it’s a “school within a shule.” Many RSS graduates go on to study further at CRS or join the Youth Group so as to remain involved in the temple. On many occasions, he has officiated at the Brit Milah, Bar Mitzvah, and wedding of an RSS student! Most recently, though, Rabbi Levine and his family celebrated their own RSS-related simcha! His son Ezra (RSS Class of 2000) recently got engaged to another RSS graduate (Katie Levy, Class of 2004), and the proposal took place in the RSS gym, on CRS Mitzvah Day! Mazel Tov to Rabbi Levine and his entire family!!
Both Rabbi Levine and Cantor De Lowe play an important role in our children’s lives. They help connect the synagogue to the school as well as provide valuable spiritual guidance. In our next issue, we’ll be profiling Rabbi Benjamin Spratt (CRS Associate Rabbi and RSS Rabbi-in-Residence) and Senior Cantor Rebecca Garfein.