Cantor Galina Makaveyev Honored by Temple Israel of Lawrence | Herald Community Newspapers
Overcoming a shortage of Jewish education in her native Ukraine, Hewlett resident Galina Makaveyev became a cantor and celebrated her 20th anniversary in that role at Lawrence’s Temple Israel after the June 3 Shabbat service at the synagogue.
Makaveyev, 54, was hired as cantor of the temple in July 2002. “I knew I had made it,” she said at the event in her honor. “I could become an American citizen, and I could use my musical talent and skills to serve a greater purpose.” A cantor sings liturgical music and leads prayer in a synagogue.
Makaveyev came to the United States in 1995 from Israel, where she lived for five years after emigrating in 1990 from Ukraine, her homeland, then part of the Soviet Union.
“My only connection to Judaism was eating chicken soup with matzos at Passover, breaking the fast after Yom Kippur, and my mother’s stories of her family surviving the Holocaust,” she said. declared. “My love of Jewish music was instilled in me by listening to my grandmother Nessa sing songs in Yiddish, performing at the Yiddish theater in kyiv, and later singing with bands in Israel.”
In 1994, Makaveyev graduated from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance with a bachelor’s degree in choir conducting and music education. In the United States, she met a Russian cantor who inspired her to start a career as a cantor. She applied to Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Lower Manhattan.
“When one of the college professors asked me during the interview, ‘How do you celebrate Shabbat?’ I thought, ‘What are you talking about?’ laughs Makaveyev. “I was Jewish by blood, but I didn’t know how to practice Judaism. So the college accepted me. However, during the summer, I had to take classes that converts usually take – Introduction to Judaism. I was the only one in the class who was Jewish; the rest of the people were not Jewish. So, after taking a three-month course, I came back and they accepted me into the program.
Makaveyev graduated from the Jewish Institute of Religion in 2002, the year she was hired at Temple Israel. She and her husband have two children.
As cantor and director of education at the temple, she has bonded with many people. Through mourning or celebrating, “you become closer to people and become part of their lives,” Makaveyev said, adding, “you become part of their family — we call it the big Temple of Israel family. “. She stays in touch with many children she teaches and has officiated at some of their weddings.
Makaveyev’s 20th anniversary worship and concert celebration was filled with music and also served as a fundraiser for future musical events at the synagogue. Around 50 people attended in person – and enjoyed an impressive array of desserts towards the end of the program – while almost 30 participated on Zoom.
Temple Israel presented a Torah dedication to Makaveyev, “with a beautiful new cover,” said temple president Doug Segan, explaining that the cantor “plays a vital role in the education of our students,” preparing young people children at bat and bar mitzvahs and teaching. Judaism for adults.
“She supported every family through their happy occasions, life cycle events and through times of tragedy,” Segan said, adding “Having someone (serving as a cantor) for so many years – obviously the bond is all the stronger.”
Temple Israel’s first vice president, Penny Schuster, said Makaveyev’s connection to worshipers “brings continuity and consistency.” Makaveyev “sings like an angel,” Schuster wrote in an email, “and you feel like she’s singing straight to you and for you. Plus, her smile lets you know how great the music is. significant to her. Schuster described Makaveyev as “gifted”.
As Makaveyev educates others, “she continues to grow personally,” Schuster wrote, “pursuing a rabbinical certificate in gerontology and palliative care.” Schuster linked Makaveyev’s work to tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase for “fixing the world.”
“As a singer, Galina uplifts us through her lyrics and musical gifts,” Schuster wrote. “And as a member of the community, she brings about change through her actions, whether it’s building bridges with our interfaith partners or leading a Jones Beach clean-up day. To quote a hymn from the book of Proverbs, she is truly a woman of worth.
Makaveyev said she plans to stay at the synagogue as long as she needs to and as long as she can. “I love music,” she said, “but that’s only part of the grand scale of responsibilities I have — not just professional responsibilities, but human responsibilities as well.”