Toronto, February, 2018 – With great excitement and a dash of kvell, the Stashover-Slipia
Congregation today announces the appointment of Rachael Littman, Doctor of Ministry, as Cantor.
Cantor Littman will lead religious services and the Voices of Torah class following Shabbat morning
services (among many other roles) while bringing an inclusive, engaging, and highly learned presence to
this long-standing and progressive shul affectionately known as Stash.
Cantor Littman’s extensive dossier — which features a Bachelor degree in Classical Voice from the
Manhattan School of Music, a Masters of Sacred Music and Cantorial Ordination from the Jewish
Theological Seminary (from which she was invested as Cantor) as well as a Doctorate of Ministry
Interfaith Pastoral Counselling from Hebrew Union College — underscores a lifetime spent serving her
community through faith and outreach.
Indeed, Cantor Littman’s four-plus years as Spiritual Counsellor at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT
— where she facilitated spiritual healing in patients across socio-economic, religious, age, and
educational lines — complements expansive Cantorial experience (five years in Stamford, CT) which
included but was not limited to leading High Holiday and Friday evening services while devising unique
services to inspire and maximize congregant participation. Other roles have included synagogue
organization and community and life cycle facilitation.
And she can sing! Cantor Littman has spearheaded various music programs for adults and children
within and beyond multiple congregations, consistently fostering joy. She will continue to do so at Stash.
Moreover, her wide-ranging volunteer and pastoral work cements Cantor Littman’s commitment to
uplifting the interior lives of all in her orbit.
“This congregation includes third- and fourth-generations of families and while it’s hoping to enlarge, it’s
not driven by it,” Cantor Littman says, adding that principles of bikur holim (nurturing the sick and
suffering) will inform her curriculum at the shul. “With me coming in, we’re hoping to draw more people
who want to attend smaller services; a full, traditional service but within an environment that’s openminded
and progressive while still respecting halakha, Jewish law.”
“We got much more than we hoped for when our search for a new spiritual leader brought Rachael
Littman to our door,” confirms Jay Safer, President of The Stashover-Slipia Congregation. “She has the
complete array of skills to lead all components of our services, the training and personality for reaching
people, and enveloping them in her generous care. And she is blessed with a beautiful voice.
“Although these are early days in her tenure, we believe her openness, inviting approach, willingness to
adapt, and her gracious manner will attract more people to our synagogue. Her voice alone says,
American-born Cantor Littman was well acquainted with Toronto before moving north due to her
performances in Toronto’s Jewish Music Week and Baycrest’s celebration of a Century of Women’s
Achievements featuring her one women show of The Music and Life of Molly Picon, Sweetheart of
Yiddish Theatre. As well, her fiancée Alyssa Gilman resides in Toronto. “My family is in New York and
New Jersey so there was some initial hesitation about moving. But when I found The Stash, it felt
bashert; meant to be. It was just the perfect job.”
She continues: “This is a congregation that has thrived for 108 years, carrying on after their religious
leader (Spiritual Coordinator Jack Lipinsky) stepped down after 36 years. I wasn’t necessarily looking to
serve a congregation again, but the timing was right, and The Stash is just such a warm community. It
felt like the right thing to do.”
Interestingly, it was while attending the acclaimed Manhattan School of Music from 1996 to 2000 that
Cantor Littman discovered women could be cantors. “The Jewish Theological Seminary is right across the
street and I saw women wearing yarmulkes,” she chuckles. “I was raised in a more Orthodox
environment, so this was news to me.”
And while Cantor Littman acknowledges that all contemporary congregations face the twin challenges of
aging membership and attracting new followers, she is confident The Stash’s hallowed reputation as a
welcoming temple will ensure her mandate succeeds.
“My role is really to provide a warm, inviting, and safe place where people can come no matter who
they are,” she says. “Whether they want to be congregants or have never thought about being a
member of a synagogue. I want to open Judaism to anyone who is interested, so they have a positive
experience and feel comfortable coming into services.”
“In this day and age, it’s so important to feel that you have a community. And when you serve a
community, it’s wonderful to be able to point to resources that are available to people when they need
them. People can come to their synagogue, find what they need, and share their experiences in a
Additional new article about Rachel can be found here