Ze'evi Placement Headshot 2023

Ze'evi Tovlev


Cantor Tovlev (they/them) is originally from Newton, Massachusetts. They grew up in the Reform Jewish world, discovering their passion for participatory musical prayer as a junior choir member at Temple Shalom of Newton and a songleader at URJ Eisner Camp. A composer of liturgical music, a passionate educator, and one of the first out transgender cantors ordained in known history, Cantor Tovlev’s work centers on creating a sense of belonging in Jewish community. 

Cantor Tovlev earned their Bachelor of Arts in Music from Bennington College, studying Vocal Performance and Music Composition. Following graduation, Cantor Tovlev returned to Jewish community, working with toddlers, youth, teens, young families, and adults as a teacher, prayer leader, and innovator, creating many paths to Jewish engagement. Energized and fulfilled by this work, Cantor Tovlev applied to cantorial school, pursuing the path many had urged them toward since they were twelve years old. As a student at HUC-JIR, Cantor Tovlev had the blessing of serving many communities in a cantorial and educational role: Kehillat HaShachar in Even Yehuda, Israel; Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City; University Synagogue (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple) in Los Angeles; HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus; Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center in Pasadena, California; Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, New York; and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City. Cantor Tovlev earned a Master of Jewish Education from HUC-JIR’s Rhea Hirsch School of Education in 2021 (the first cantorial student to do so), a Master in Sacred Music from HUC-JIR’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in 2022, and was ordained as a Cantor in 2023. Cantor Tovlev is deeply involved in the pioneering work of nonbinary Hebrew liturgy, transforming our ancient and modern words of blessing to reflect the many genders of Jews.

Cantor Tovlev lives with their spouse Rabbi Ariel Tovlev (he/they) and their two cats, Darling and Turtle. 

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