Cantor Meeka Simerly


Cantor Meeka Simerly was born in Haifa, Israel, and was raised in an ultra-secular Zionist environment. After moving to the United States in 1995 she discovered her Jewish religious roots, becoming musically active in several congregations and Jewish organizations in Silicon Valley. She earned her B.A. cum laude in music education from San Jose State University in 2004, and received her Cantorial Ordination and a Masters in Jewish Sacred Music from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California in 2009. She was recently accepted to the rabbinic program at her alma mater, where she will continue her studies toward becoming a rabbi.

Cantor Simerly has been serving as the Cantor of Temple Emanu-El (TEE) of San Jose since 2006. In addition to providing spiritual worship experiences for TEE’s congregants, Cantor Simerly also officiates at life cycle events, and shares the love of Torah and sacred text-study with children and adults of all ages. Her essay, “Naomi Shemer’s Artistic Expression: Poetry, Prayer, or Both?” was published in Emotions in Jewish Music: Personal and Scholarly Reflections (University Press of America, 2012).

In the wider community, she has served as the officiating clergy representative at San Jose's Memorial Day and Veterans Day events. She also works with the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, volunteering her time with the Santa Clara County correctional facilities, and was recently invited to serve on the Board of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley.

Cantor Simerly’s love for dogs and other animals is infectious. Since joining TEE, she has worked on many programs that provide educational, hands-on awareness and care for animals. She lives in San Jose with her husband and their 3 Schnauzers.


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