Meet Cantor Danielle Rodnizki, A New Chapter in the Temple Beth El Story

We are thrilled to introduce Cantor Danielle Rodnizki as the newest addition to our Temple Beth El family, bringing her wealth of experience and passion for Jewish music and prayer leadership to our community. With more than fifteen years of songleading and worship-leading experience, Cantor Rodnizki’s journey has instilled in her a deep understanding of the transformative power of music in shaping spiritual experiences within a congregation. Her dedication to creating innovative prayer experiences strengthened through her studies at the prestigious Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, sets the stage for wonderful opportunities in our services and programming. We are honored to welcome Cantor Rodnizki to Charlotte and eagerly anticipate the dynamic contributions she will make at Temple Beth El.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what drew you to become a cantor?
I grew up at a Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater, FL, where music became a meaningful access point for engaging with Judaism at an early age. When I was preparing to become bat mitzvah, Barbara Mazer was serving as our Cantorial Soloist. I thought she was the best person in the world, so when she asked if I’d like to take guitar lessons with her, the answer was a resounding yes! She was wise, giving me guitar chords to popular Jewish songs so I could learn how to play. I quickly became involved in religious school music at my synagogue and in NFTY, and I signed up to attend the summer songleading program at the URJ Kutz Camp. By the time I reached my senior year at Washington University in St. Louis, I was leading services, religious school music, and teen songleading workshops five days a week at local congregations, and I was a regular attendee at many Reform movement conferences, including Hava Nashira and URJ Biennial. I was consistently moved by the magic created when people gathered in community to sing. It was less about hearing my own voice, but rather discovering what holiness we could create together. After graduating from college, I returned home to serve as the Cantorial Soloist in Clearwater, as a trial run to see if becoming a cantor would be the right path for me, and the rest is history.

What inspired you to join Temple Beth El in Charlotte?
From the moment I arrived in Charlotte, I felt the goodness – the true menschiness – that emanates from everyone in this community, from the clergy to the staff, lay leaders, search committee, and the entire congregation. I was moved by the spirit of innovation and community engagement that Rabbi Knight has helped cultivate at TBE, and it felt like the possibilities of what we could build together would be endless.

How has your musical journey influenced your approach to leading congregational singing?
I am a songleader at heart, so communal singing with a guitar in my hand will always feel like home. I am consistently trying to be attuned to the fluctuating energy in the room and to the larger arc of the service – the readings, music, and spoken words that flow in and out of one another to create something that is ideally dynamic, moving, and whole for the congregation. During my studies at HUC-JIR, I wanted to fill my toolbox with other skills I did not yet have, like traditional cantorial chanting (nusach and hazzanut), art songs from the Classical Reform tradition, and more. My master’s thesis focused on the intersection and the potential partnership and synergy between these various styles of Jewish music, and I aim to create a rich tapestry of repertoire and musical textures whenever I craft prayer services.

Can you share a memorable experience or moment from your career as a cantor that has had a significant impact on you?
Singing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and on stage at the URJ Biennial were cool experiences, but when I think of truly memorable moments in my career, it always comes back to meaningful relationships. I am eternally grateful to mentors, now friends, who helped cultivate my skills and checked in on me as I learned and grew, from my teen songleading days to today, and I burst with pride watching former students flourish.

What are you most looking forward to as the new cantor at Temple Beth El?
I cannot wait to build meaningful relationships with each and every one of you. The best part of being a cantor is watching others grow and getting to be present for some of the most important and special moments in their lives, and I really look forward to doing just that.

What is something about you that TBE congregants might not know?    
My parents were both born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Spanish is my first language! When I was 2 years old, my mom dropped me off at Temple B’nai Israel for my first day of preschool and informed my teachers that I spoke no English. Luckily, I picked it up quickly.

Join us Friday, July 12 at 6:00pm for an evening of good food, great company, and an opportunity to meet and mingle with Cantor Danielle Rodnizki! Register here.

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