Our Cantor

Alisa Fineman was ordained from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion-The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in May of 2018, after having served CBI as Cantorial Soloist for over 25 years. She has lived in the Monterey Bay region for longer, nourished by its rolling hills of coast live oak, rich farmland and redwood groves where land meets the sea. Growing up, Alisa spent extensive time in the Rocky Mountains and Big Sur wilderness, as well as the Sierra Nevada. The vibrant beauty and poignancy of place, along with her family’s rich musical heritage, inspired the beginnings of her career as a singer and songwriter at age ten.

While completing her degree in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, Alisa grew her career as a touring folk musician and was hailed by the Monterey Arts Council for her “…extraordinary contribution to the quality of life in Monterey County through the excellence of her work and her vision, passion and dedication to our community.” Alisa’s formative years were also shaped by a loving Jewish upbringing that included Hebrew-speaking summers at Camp Swig’s Solel Hebrew program, directed by passionate educators, all leaders in their fields today. Nevertheless, she was surprised to find herself called to cantorial work, first at Congregation Emeth in Gilroy and later at Temple Beth El of Salinas.

In the midst of her flourishing touring and recording career as a folk artist, Alisa also took time to hone her skills, deepening her knowledge of liturgy and Jewish spirituality through studies with a variety of teachers active in the Jewish Renewal movement of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Her explorations of Jewish chant, Torah and wilderness, feminine spirituality, Hassidut, and embodied Judaism empowered her as a sacred song leader and spiritual teacher with a celebrative spirit of Jewish identity. This only deepened her ever-expanding sense of humanity and commitment to building bridges of understanding among diverse traditions.

Her role at CBI includes leading music for Shabbat services, holidays and observances, and teaching our B’nai Mitzvah and teen programs. In addition to serving as Cantor at CBI, Alisa continues to perform concerts, facilitates life-cycle events and is invited to appear as artist-in residence for congregations and programs across the country.  She has recorded a number of CD’s, including several with her gifted musical and life partner, Kimball Hurd, with whom she performs. One of her CDs, Closing the Distance— Poems, Prayers & Love Songs, was produced by Alex de Grassi and received enthusiastic international response, including the selection of four of its songs for inclusion in the Shalshelet Festival in NYC in 2010.

Alisa and Kimball have lived together in the beautiful tri-county town of Aromas since 1992.

For more information on Alisa, please visit her official website alisafineman.com.