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Our Adult Choir helps lead the congregation in song.  They sing both traditional litugical melodies and new arrangements.  The choir sings at one to two Shabbat services per month and at many of the High Holidays services.  The choir typically rehearses twice a week in preparation for the High Holidays, and twice a month for the rest of the year.

Jason Hill, Adult Choir Director

Jason joined Congregation Etz Chaim in July of 2021.  Jason is originally from Muskogee, OK, but after attending graduate school at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and Seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University, he now lives in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. Jason has served on church staffs since he was 15 years old. In addition to his passion for sacred music, he has been working as a musical theatre music director, pianist and keyboardist for 20 years, including New York productions, national hours of Broadway shows and professional regional theatre. Other career highlights include serving as Pianist in the Marine Band (MARFORPAC), Carnival Cruise Lines and Women of Ireland.

Jason stays busy working in musical theatre in Chicagoland, doing social justice work, working out, biking, and being cat-dad to Skyler and Catain Jack Harkness.

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Music Leaders

Cindy Michelassi, Band Leader & Shabbat Music Coordinator

Cindy has been a member of Congregation Etz Chaim since 1990. She served on the Board of Trustees for 8 years, and taught in the religious school for 12 years. She began song leading in the religious school in 1993, and became the congregation’s Song Leader in 1995. Cindy is a 26 year veteran of Hava Nashira and Shabbat Shira, the annual Song Leading and Music Conferences held at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Cindy has certifications from the URJ’s Synagogue Leadership Institute and the Rabbinic Aid program. She currently represents our congregation as a member of the Elmhurst Interfaith Leadership Network. She has worked for many synagogues and Jewish organizations in the Chicago area, including Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors in Geneva, the Chicago area B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and the JCC Apache Camp. She is currently also serving as music and service leader for Temple B’nai Israel and Aurora Jewish Renewal Congregation in Aurora, and Temple Beth El in Rockford. She has taught adult Hebrew and adult B’nei Mitzvah classes for many years at Congregation Etz Chaim. Cindy has produced four recordings of Jewish music. Her original composition, “R’fuah Sh’leimah” is published in Manginot: The Complete Jewish Songbook for Children, Volume II. Visit Cindy’s web site

Email Cindy

Sue Leftwich, Music Teacher

Sue Leftwich has been a member of Congregation Etz Chaim since 1994. She has been part of the religious school faculty since 1997, beginning as a kindergarten teacher assistant, followed by a chug teacher for three years and has been teaching the music classes since 2001. Sue teaches traditional and contemporary Jewish songs, including holiday and Shabbat songs in both Hebrew and English to the primary department students (pre-school through second grade) each week.  Additionally, she helps the eighth graders choose appropriate songs for their Yom HaShoah service and participates by singing the selected songs during the service.  Sue is also a vocalist/guitarist in the congregation's Life Tree Ramblers band and has been a band member since its inception in 2006. 


The Life Tree Ramblers Band

Congregation Etz Chaim’s own t’filah band, The Life Tree Ramblers, was formed by Rabbi Cosnowsky in 2006. Original band member Roy Warshawsky coined the name, in a nod to our congregation’s Hebrew name, Etz Chaim – Tree of Life. The Ramblers play for four services throughout the year, adding their contemporary style music to every season, autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Each service is an opportunity to join in joyous worship, singing, and even provides a chance to dance! Always multi-generational, the current band includes the talents of congregation members (pictured from left to right) Ricardo Martinez – keyboard, Bruce Miller – bass guitar, Terry Shapiro – guitar, Cindy Michelassi (band director) – guitar, bodhran, clarinet, Sue Leftwich – guitar, Jennifer Gesinski – mandolin, Daniel Silverstein – drums and percussion. See the temple calendar for service dates.

Thu, September 28 2023 13 Tishrei 5784