Introducing the Shul Sisters: Cantor Laurie Akers, Cantor Rachel Brooke, and Cantor Rachel Goldman. These talented female cantors share an equal desire to uplift female voices through song. The Shul Sisters are the first female cantorial trio in the US and have been collaborating since January 2019. Releasing the viral video, “I’m Gonna Walk It With You”, with Christian faith leaders inspired the Shul Sisters to continue the work of connecting communities across the world through harmony. through their work with these faith leaders, they have been inspired to continue to create a meaningful and connected community through beautiful harmonies.
What does it mean to be a Shul Sister?
Cantor Laurie Akers: Wow, I love this question! It means everything to me. The three of us elevate each other and we are always there for each other’s greatest celebrations and challenges. It’s our hope that our sisterhood will inspire future generations of young women to embrace their voices and to lift the voices of others!
Cantor Rachel Brooke: It means being blessed to be able to make music with
two of my closest friends and favorite cantors who inspire me to be a better artist, woman, and
person every day. It means having the privilege of sharing music with the world with the intention
to bring joy, inspiration, and comfort into people’s lives.
Cantor Rachel Goldman: It would be an understatement if I said anything having
to do with an amazing musical partnership. It’s so much more than that. Rachel Brook sent us
two pictures in our thread recently (we have a constant text thread among the three of us) that
mostly sum it up for me:
What is your favorite Jewish Chicago event?
Cantor Laurie Akers: Jewish Rock Radio’s Chicago Sings concert series. I host 3 concerts a year involving cantors and Jewish musicians representing approx 10-15 congregations per concert. It’s an incredible community-building series for both the participants as well as our audience.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
Cantor Laurie Akers: I attended religious school and was involved in my synagogue choir and annual shul musical. That said, full disclosure, as a young girl, I wrestled a lot with faith. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I felt a genuine connection. I needed to find my own path.
Cantor Rachel Brooke: My father was Israeli, so we spent summers with family in Israel and identified as strongly Jewish the way most secular Israelis do. I grew up at Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, and spent many formative summers at Camp Harlam in the Poconos. After my first summer at camp, I instituted weekly Shabbat dinners at home and we began lighting candles, offering blessings, and enjoying a family meal together every Friday night.
Cantor Rachel Goldman: I started Bim-Bamming at a young age in a Jewish Preschool, went to Jewish Summer Camp, and was co-president of my local synagogue NFTY chapter in my senior year of high school.
What’s your go-to self-care?
Cantor Laurie Akers: For fun, I love hanging out with my family at Botanic Gardens.
We are also a big soccer family! I love playing piano with my youngest son, Ashton, as well as
playing Wordle with my kids:) We also love playing with our Berne doodle, Milo. To relax…I am obsessed with the Peloton treadmill, and I look to Peloton instructor, Jess Simms, as a spiritual guide.
Cantor Rachel Brooke: My time on the mat for workouts or yoga reminds me that taking
care of my body is an entry to taking care of my spirit. Our lives are so busy from every direction
and carving out some space just for myself helps me to be the best parent and cantor that I can
Cantor Rachel Goldman: Comfy pajamas and a Beyoncé-heavy playlist.
What do you do for work?
Cantor Larie Akers: I’m a full-time Cantor serving in my 6th year at Congregation Or
Shalom in Vernon Hills, IL
Cantor Rachel Brooke: I am honored to serve as the Senior Cantor of Anshe Emet
Synagogue here in beautiful Chicago.
Cantor Rachel Goldman: I’m a synagogue cantor—right now I’m in the South Bay of Los Angeles serving Congregation Ner Tamid (in Rancho Pablo’s Verdes, CA) and in July, I will become the Senior Cantor at the largest Conservative Synagogue in the US (and the first female one Senior Cantor there ever!)
Learn more about the Shul Sisters
June 9 – Congregation Sha’arey Tzedek in Southfield, Michigan
June 12 – Congregation Or Elohim in Jericho, NY
CHICAGO LAND AREA PERFORMANCE THIS AUGUST: August 15 at Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook, IL
Join the Shul Sisters for a Celebration of Harvey Miller (of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School – Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC). The conservative Jewish seminary in NYC is named in his honor. Learn more on ChiTribe>>