LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- By day, Sheryl Odentz is the founder of NYC-based Progress in Work LLC, a business development training/coaching, leadership coaching and career transition consulting firm specializing in the legal industry. But, come the Jewish High Holy Days, which start at sundown Sunday, Oct. 2, she is a singer.
For the 16th year in a row, she will be part of the choir at Larchmont Temple singing the second day of Rosh Hashanah and in the afternoon on Yom Kippur.
Odentz, who grew up in Longmeadow, MA and now lives in Larchmont, said she used to sing before she spoke -- at least that's what her mother used to tell her. When she was 13, she took voice lessons with a dramatic soprano, who, she said, taught her the art of Bel Canto singing.
"She was like my second mom," said Odentz. "She encouraged me to study vocal performance and opera after high school where I received my B.MUS. from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts."
In a strange twist of fate, she studied voice at Boston University with the same teacher that her cantor growing up studied with. "His name was Morton Shames and he was Beth El Temple’s cantor for years," she said." He, unfortunately, passed away recently, but his magnificent voice will live on."
As a teenager, the Coloratura Soprano sang in the Beth El Temple Adult Choir. After college, she decided that although she loved to sing, she decided to pursue other interests.
For "at least two decades" after, Odentz said she didn't sing much -- except in the shower or for her friends. But about 15 years ago, when her children were young, she decided to take it up again and joined the temple choir at Larchmont Temple. For six summers, she even filled in as the cantor for Friday night services.
It was around this time she started taking singing lessons again (with Mazelle Sykes at Larchmont's Music School of Westchester ). But, like any busy working mom, that, too, fell by the wayside. Finding time was just too difficult.
Which is why, every year, she looks forward to the High Holy Days, not only for the holiday time with her friends and family but for the singing time it affords her.
"Singing at temple during the High Holy Days is a spiritual experience for me," she said. "It is a time to make 'Teshuvah' – to reflect and forgive.
"Because it's the Jewish New Year, it's also a joyous time for me where I can spend concentrated time with people I love and care about."
Expect to hear Odentz singing with the choir as well as doing a solo of melodies like Adonai S’fatai Tiftach; Avot V’imahot; Zochreinu. For Yom Kippur, she'll be doing a duet called Vihudah L’Olam Teisheiv with Carol Froehlich, who grew up singing at Larchmont Temple .