Not only did the new chazzan at Temple Israel & Jewish Community Center in Ridgewood move here in July from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but the former Caitlin O’Sullivan —whose conversion service was featured in a 1981 Moment magazine article on Jews by choice — has moved closer to what she called her “destiny,” combining a love of Judaism with a passion for music.
Cantor Caitlin Bromberg
“I was one of the first to do a public conversion ceremony in Manhattan,” she said, explaining that the service reflected the view of the late Rabbi Alexander Schindler, then leader of the Reform movement, that conversions should be celebrated like other major life-cycle events.
“I sang during the service,” she said, and shortly afterwards she received an invitation to officiate at High Holiday services at a small Reform congregation. “Even then I was thinking about [the cantorate],” she said.
Raised in San Diego, Calif., Bromberg received her ordination from the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000 and chose to begin her new professional life in the southwest.
After four years at a congregation in El Paso, Texas, she moved to Albuquerque’s B’nai Israel, the only Conservative congregation in New Mexico, which she served for an additional four years. Each city has a Jewish population of about 5,000, but, she pointed out, “it is difficult to determine the exact number of Jews in southwestern cities because of their high level of assimilation and lack of affiliation.”
While in El Paso, Bromberg worked with members of the converso community, helping to staff an outreach program created by Conservative Rabbi Stephen Leon (formerly of the Elmwood Park Jewish Center), who, she said, has made it his mission “to bring crypto-Jews back to Judaism.”