Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray grew up in a distinguished family of cantors. A fourth generation cantor and the second to serve a Conservative congregation, Deborah founded the Women Cantors’ Network in l982 to help share the love of cantorial music she grew up with. At Boston University her studies with Prof. Elie Wiesel convinced her that continuing in this family tradition was the best response for Jewish survival.
Since 1999, Deborah has served Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, CT and is active in the greater community. Deborah created a Music Shabbat series that brings guest artists on a regular basis enriching the choir and congregational experience in worship. Creative B’nai Mitzvah curriculum, a complete music curriculum for the religious school, Tot Shabbat music, and
Life- cycle involvement have been important parts of her cantorate.
She is a faculty member and mentor with the European Academy for Jewish Liturgy, a project of the Cantors Assembly bringing hazzanut to lay leaders in Europe. Deborah is the scholar for the annual “ Art of Shulmanship” giving workshops and concerts in Europe this coming winter 2013.
She has developed musical and educational programs for National Hadassah, UJC Speakers Bureau, CAJE, Chautauqua Institution, and the Wexner Foundation. She was selected as a Teaching Artist for the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Deborah was chosen as one of the Jewish Ledger’s “Movers and Shakers for 2009”.
Her recordings include Passover Seder Songs, Kindersongs, Jewish Soul and A Sacred Spirit. The Cantors Assembly included her recordings in the Spirit of Israel , Spirit of Hanukkah ,Spirit of the Jewish Wedding, Jewish World, and Spirit of Peace CD series. Her rendition of Jerusalem of Gold was selected for The International Jewish Songbook recording. Her CDs are heard on Jewish radio stations throughout the country and are available at cdbaby.com, oysongs.com and www.cantordebbie.com Her recording and companion songbook, Katchko Three Generations of Cantorial Art is being used at the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College. It is the first cantorial songbook with guitar chords in a female friendly key!
Cantor Katchko-Gray served on the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly ,currently serves on the Clergy Task Force of Jewish Women International and is Founder and Past President of the Women Cantors Network. Founded in l982 the WCN has a diverse membership reaching 300 members. Deborah is the chair of the Connecticut Region of the Cantors Assembly. Deborah helped found a new cantorial group in Connecticut- Connecticut Cantors Connect. She is an Associate Member of the American Conference of Cantors, and served on the Liturgy Task Force.
Deborah’s story is included in The Invisible Thread- A Portrait of American Jewish Women. She also teaches huck embroidery for making tallitot .The first book of Jewish Huck Embroidery was published in honor of Deborah’s tenth year at Temple Shearith Israel. Deborah is an amateur cellist with the Danbury Community Orchestra,
Her story about reuniting with her cousin,Cantor Leopold Szneer, a Holocaust survivor and cantor in Beverly Hills was recorded for National Public Radio’s Yom Hashoah program, April 21, 2009 ”The Story”.
Her archives of interviews, articles and recordings are now part of the American Jewish Archives as well as the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Two items of Deborah’s are installed permanently in the museum in Feminism and Personal Observance.
She is the mother of four sons, David, Aaron , Ezra and Joey. She is married to Dr. F. Scott Gray, of Connecticut Family Orthopedics and the Danbury Foot and Ankle Center.