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Limmud Toronto 2021
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avatar for Barbara Ostfeld

Barbara Ostfeld

Barbara Ostfeld didn’t become obsessed by singing until she was two. Though she didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was twelve and never did learn to climb to the top of the rope in gym, at seventeen she innocently cracked through a stained glass ceiling and was admitted to Hebrew Union College’s School of Sacred Music. At age twenty-two she became the first woman ordained as a cantor in 3,000 years of Jewish history, but foolishly turned down an invitation to appear on What’s My Line? Nevertheless she persisted, serving for more than twenty-seven years as cantor of congregations in Clifton, New Jersey, and in Great Neck, Rochester, and Buffalo, New York, and then for ten years as the placement director of the American Conference of Cantors. 
She is the author of a memoir, Catbird: The Ballad of Barbi Prim, which was published in 2019 by Erva Press.

Barbara lives in Buffalo, New York, with her husband and an assortment of mildew-spotted African violets. She would own at least one cat if she didn’t care about her husband. Her essays have appeared in Lilith Magazine, New Jewish Feminism, and elsewhere.