Meet Student Cantor Suzanne Hamstra

Student Cantor Hamstra joined the TSTI community just in time for lockdown, meaning few of us have met her in person. Because she is playing such an important role in our congregation, we thought you might appreciate learning a little bit more about the person behind the beautiful voice.

Student Cantor Hamstra grew up in Santa Cruz, CA in a very musical household.  She is the daughter of folk musicians and bagel bakers, born to a legacy of what she believes are the only proper, New York-style bagels on the West Coast (not that she’s biased). 

She grew up playing violin, dancing, singing in choirs, doing theater, singing and playing chamber music, and effectively participating in every aspect of the performing arts that she possibly could.  Any time that she didn’t spend on the arts, she spent at the beach or hiking in the redwoods.  She eventually found her way to The Boston Conservatory for her Bachelor’s Degree and then San Francisco Conservatory of Music for her Master’s Degree, both in classical voice performance, and spent several years as a freelance opera singer. 

Eventually, however, Student Cantor Hamstra found that life as a classical singer was unfulfilling for her spiritually, and decided to apply to HUC-JIR where she is now in her fourth year of her cantorial studies. Before TSTI, she served as a cantorial soloist at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, cantorial intern at Kehillat YOZMA in Modi’in, Israel, and for the last two years served as the student cantor at Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown, CT. 

When asked how she felt about TSTI, she said, “I am thrilled and honored to be the newest member of the clergy team at TSTI, and I cannot wait to get to know this amazing community more deeply and to share prayer, Torah, and the work of Tikkun Olam, repairing our world, with all of you!” 


Featured Events

Turkey and Food Bag Drive
Sunday, Nov. 22 from 9:00 am  - 12:00 sharp on the Gellis Plaza

The IFPO will be collecting frozen, never thawed, turkeys and prepared bags of food in reusable bags for our Thanksgiving distribution. Due to pandemic logistics, please follow these instructions:
Pack each reusable bag with ALL of the following items to ensure each client is treated with dignity and respect. We estimate the cost of each bag at approximately $15.
2 Boxes Stuffing
1 Can Cranberry Sauce
2 Boxes Mac and Cheese
2 pound bag of Rice
1 Can Corn
1 Box Instant mashed potatoes
1 Can Hearty Soup
1 Can of Gravy
1 Jar Peanut Butter
The IFPO will not be doing a coat distribution at Thanksgiving this year due to Covid and social distancing concerns. If you have coats or winter wear you wish to donate, they can be dropped at the East Orange Senior Center, 90 Halsted Street (enter through back parking lot) until Nov. 15! Coats are also being accepted for the Jersey Cares Cost Drive until Jan. 10, 2021.

Our Mission

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel

We welcome you to join us! TSTI is an inclusive, diverse congregation committed to developing and fostering a joyous and meaningful lifelong Jewish experience. At TSTI we celebrate the religious principles and moral values of Reform Judaism through worship, education, acts of social justice, study of Torah, and community service. Our members live in South Orange, Maplewood, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, West Orange and neighboring towns.

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