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Cantor's Page

If you think my work as a cantor is always serious, here's a video of my "debut" singing the National Anthem. It was at the Danbury Westerners  baseball game on Saturday, June 15, 2019.


Cantor Kessler sings the National Anthem at the Danbury Westerners game, June 15, 2019.


July/August 2019


I confess: I obsessed this spring about transitioning from layering winter clothes to exposing myself to the summer wardrobe. Will my last-year’s clothes still fit? What physical changes are really noticeable? Did I re-up gym membership in time? Don’t even get me started on trying on or buying a new swimsuit. You, too?


Our bodies – women and men’s – have been in the commercial (and government, but that’s for another day) cross hairs seemingly forever. As of 2017, the diet and weight-loss industry that wants us to believe that we need constant fixing is worth an estimated $66.3 billion. And we have allowed ourselves to buy into the advertised fear and loathing.


We are too fat/thin, short/tall, dark or light skinned. Our body shapes are pear/apple/mango/banana/pick-your-own-fruit and must be dressed accordingly. We’re too young/old for certain clothes/colors. We starve and exercise, and learn at a young age to hate and fear our bodies for not obeying our ever-changing commands. And our bodies learn to hate and fear us in return because of the abuse we heap upon them by insisting on some never-accessible perfection. We base our and others’ worth on weight, skin color, hair type, gender, sexual orientation.


Let’s stop this cycle of abuse. Our souls, minds, and bodies deserve better. Our bodies aren’t just a miracle of science, genetics, and evolution. Our bodies are a miracle of sacred creation. Our bodies, minds, and souls work as a unified whole; if we harm one part, all three are damaged. Ignore our bodies, and our souls ache; ignore our souls, and our bodies rebel.


We can recover from body loathing. We can undo the damage we (and the universe) have inflicted upon our souls and bodies. And so I offer you a prayer from our siddur, to be recited (or adapted for your own use) each morning:


Blessed are you, THE ARCHITECT, our God, the sovereign of all worlds,
who shaped the human being with wisdom,
making for us all the openings and vessels of the body.
It is revealed and known before your Throne of Glory
that if one of these passageways be open when it should be closed,
or blocked up when it should be free,
one could not stay alive or stand before you.
Blessed are you, MIRACULOUS, the wondrous healer of all flesh.*


If we are made good enough for the Architect, surely we are good enough for ourselves, no matter what others – or we – believe.


Best wishes for a wonderful summer.


Cantor Penny Kessler


The Reconstructionist Press's prayer book Kol Haneshamah, Shabat Vehagim




Mon, August 19 2019 18 Av 5779