Jacqueline Rafii is delighted to join the Valley Beth Shalom family as its new Cantor, working alongside Cantors Baron and Fox. Cantor Rafii brings her vision for building, engaging, and invigorating Jewish community through uplifting music, creative initiatives, and spiritual leadership. She directs and develops meaningful musical programs and services, is launching new community groups and choirs, oversees the newly redesigned B’nai Mitzvah program, and shares holidays, special occasions, and sacred moments with VBS members.
Prior to joining VBS, Cantor Rafii served for five years as the Cantor of Shomrei Torah Synagogue, where she developed and directed all musical programming, creative prayer experiences, and music education. Highlights include Songstruck, a sold-out cantorial concert two years in a row which raised substantial funds for the synagogue and earned a full-page rave review in the Jewish Journal; the Shabbat Around the World series; Zamru Shabbat; Simcha Shabbat; and founding and directing the synagogue’s first-ever Youth and Teen Choirs. In 2019 and 2020, Cantor Rafii was honored by LA Mayor Garcetti’s office for her impactful work in the community.
Cantor Rafii was ordained as a Hazzan and earned her Master’s in Sacred Jewish Music from the Academy for Jewish Religion California. For her Master’s thesis, she conducted original fieldwork in the area of preserving, notating, and sharing Persian Jewish prayer melodies with communities around the world. She performed many of these pieces in her Senior Recital, Kol Haneshama, which is available to view on YouTube.
Prior to becoming a cantor, Cantor Rafii earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and practiced entertainment law. She also served as a cantorial soloist at major synagogues across Los Angeles, and she was the first-ever female prayer leader at the Iranian Jewish Senior Center’s High Holy Days services.
Cantor Rafii is a published composer and pianist, and performs Jewish music in Hebrew, Ladino, Farsi and English. She is an Alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Cantor Rafii lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Lev, and baby daughter, Adira.