Our Clergy

Cantor Harriet Dunkerley

Cantor Dunkerley joined Temple B’nai Chaim in July 2020 as its Congregational Leader, Cantor and Educator. She grew up in Annandale, VA and graduated cum laude with honors from Mary Washington College earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in musical theatre with a concentration in vocal performance and acting. She holds a master’s degree in Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion’s New York Campus where she was ordained as a Cantor in May 2019. During her time as a student at HUC-JIR, Cantor Harriet served as cantorial intern for congregations in Reading, PA, White Plains, NY and Greenwich, CT. In addition to this work, her Cantorate has been deeply impacted by the unit of Clinical Pastoral Education she completed at St. Luke’s – Mt. Sinai West in Manhattan, her learning as an ARZA fellow at HUC-JIR, her participation in Hazon’s Jewish Food Conference, her explorations into Jewish Mystical traditions and her educational travel to underserved communities in Lithuania, the Republic of Georgia, Azerbaijan and the West Bank with Encounter and JDC-Entwine through their partnerships with HUC-JIR. Among the recognitions for her work as a student at HUC-JIR of which she is most proud are, the Manuel & Ida Hoffman Memorial Prize in Liturgy, The Riverside Memorial Chapel Prize in Human Relations, the Reuben Peretz Abelson Prize for dedication to Yiddish song and the Gavi Klonsky Award for “Amitz Lev” – spirit, character and strength of heart. Since ordination, Cantor Dunkerley has served as Cantor for Greenwich Reform Synagogue and as a Chaplain for Greenwich Chaplaincy Services where she has provided spiritual care and Jewish cultural enrichment programming for two different facilities in CT.

Cantor Dunkerley is passionate about the power of music to teach, lift prayer up to God, create spiritual connection, transform worship, and bring community together.  She explains, “As Educator, my focus lies in supporting our community of learners, regardless of age, discover the many joys and treasures of our Torah and our traditions so that each of us has the knowledge and skills we need to live thoughtful, engaged Jewishly grounded lives. As your Cantor and Congregational Leader, my work is fundamentally to help you more closely experience the Divine through music.”

Perhaps Abraham Joshua Heschel said it best:

To sing means to sense and to affirm that the spirit is real and that its glory is present. In singing we perceive what is otherwise beyond perceiving. Song, and particularly liturgical song, is not only an act of expression but also a way of bringing down the spirit from heaven to earth.”

“I look forward to exploring and experiencing together the collective spirit each of us brings that makes Temple B’nai Chaim home.”

Cantor Dunkerley can be reached at: cantorharriet@templebnaichaim.org