Rabbi Aviva Bass, Temple Beth Orr, Coral Springs

Rabbi Aviva Bass, Temple Beth Orr, Coral Springs (Wil Cox Photography)

Rabbi Aviva Bass

Title: Cantorial soloist at Temple Beth Orr, Coral Springs.

Other job experience: Served synagogues in Australia, New Zealand, Marietta, Ga., Vancouver, Wash.

Education: Bachelor's degree in music, and bachelor's degree in Judaic studies, University of Miami; master of arts in Jewish education, Gratz College, Elkins Park, Pa.; master of arts in Hebrew letters, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, Pa.

Personal: Age 40. Born in New York, raised in Coral Springs.

Family: Divorced. Twin sons.

Q: You've been several places around the U.S., even Australia and New Zealand. Why did you come back to Temple Beth Orr?

A: There were several concerns. I felt it was time to come home. I'm a divorced mom of twin boys. It was important to have family support and be close to their grandparents. Also, Beth Orr was where I grew up. When I saw the posting for the position, it fit.

Q: Why did you come to a Reform temple after being ordained as a Reconstructionist?

A: I view myself as trans-denominational, especially after my experiences overseas. At one time, they were descriptive of types of observances. But nowadays, non-Orthodox movements are very close. I've also been involved in Jewish Renewal, which sees itslef as a grassroots movement. I take for my tool kit pieces of liturgical styles from any number of sources.

Q: How did you get into your vocation?

A: Mine was more of a calling, which is very unusual for rabbis to say. I was studying voice at the University of Miami, and I felt drawn to Judaism. I didn't know very much about my Judaism before college, but I started learning about it. Then I had a couple of pivotal "Aha" moments. I really felt it was what I needed to be doing.

Q: Why do you prefer serving as a cantor, although you're an ordained rabbi?

It's not necessarily a preference, but I like concentrating on the music. I think most people are touched spiritually by creative pursuits.

There are two types of creation in Hebrew. "Briyah" is the type of creation only God can do, ex nihilo. Another form, "Yetzirah," is both reproductive and artistic: music, carpentry, dance.

Q: So your concept is both experiential and theoretical?

A: What I try to do is to empower people to engage in the text by embodying it in their own creative process.

Q: Like how?

A: I've taught spiritual autobiographical writing -- using a text to find their own stories within the greater story of the Jewish people. Or I have them create a bibliodrama. I take a text and say, "Do I have a Moses in the room? So why did you break the tablets?"

Q: How do you like to relax?