Interfaith Jewish Wedding Officiant New York Cantor Judith SteelI was born in Berlin Germany, at the beginning of World War II. My parents and I (as an infant) were aboard the luxury liner “St. Louis” as it sailed from Hamburg on May 13, 1939. It was one of the last ships to leave Nazi Germany before World War II erupted. Aboard were 937 Jews believing that they had bought a visa to enter Cuba. “The Voyage of the Damned” had begun: we were not allowed to enter Cuba and many went to concentration camps when we returned to Europe.

As for my family, we were allowed to disembark the ship in Belgium, and from there sent to France. My Mother, Father and I were interned at “Camp Gurs”(near Pau Basse Pyrenees) where my father was able to sneak me out, to a French Catholic family. This family hid me from the Germans for the rest of the war.

Interfaith Jewish Wedding Officiant New York Cantor Judith SteelA French Relief Organization, “OSE” which was funded by American Jews, contacted my aunt and uncle who were living in the United States, in 1946. Through intensive communications I finally came to New York on September 9, 1946.

I never saw my parents again. I found out from a book by Serge Klarsfeld that they were taken to Auschwitz and died there.

Interfaith Jewish Wedding Officiant New York Cantor Judith SteelFor this reason my husband and I with our children went to Israel in 1974 on the occasion of my son’s Bar Mitzvah. It was there that I found the beautiful songs of Israel.

I was inspired by the beautiful music of Israel to learn to play the guitar and experiment with my vocal chords. I did many fund raisers for Israel and many Jewish organizations, and was especially drawn to the Chassidic music. In 1976, I met Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, who invited me to sing at his synagogue, and I soon became the Cantor of The New Synagogue in New York City.

To all of you who have come to my website and read my story, I thank you and I bless you.  Shalom and L’Chaim! Peace be with you. Celebrate your life!

Cantor Judith Steel

Cantor Judith Steel – Manhattan Bride 2014 Best Officiant