Melody’s earliest memory is of snuggling next to Grandpa [Papa] Glatt under his huge yellowed tallit and braiding the tzitzit. His warm wings and the murmur of prayer encircled her. She knew then – at the age of three – that she wanted to be a rabbi. Although her parents were fairly secular in practice, they bemusedly acquiesced to Melody’s plea to attend Congregation B’nai Jacob’s Hebrew school. After four years, she cajoled her folks to allow her to continue her studies at a Jewish day school. Melody was raised in an atmosphere of pluralism from the get-go: Bubbe and Papa were Orthodox, Mother and Dad were culturally Jewish and she attended a Conservative Talmud Torah and Day School.
Upon being informed that she could never be a rabbi but a rebbetzin, Melody re-focused her ambition toward theater. Her first job was as a Drama counselor at Camp Sussex – a camp for underprivileged Jewish children.
Melody appeared in numerous productions in the New York area. Although a talented thespian, she had certain habits to which she had become addicted – like eating. She returned to college and received her Bachelor’s Degree – Summa cum laude – from Fordham University. She continued her studies and earned a Master of Arts Degree in History from New York University.
Melody drifted into the world of professional photography through her husband Edwin.
Like many other artists, he needed someone to ‘sell’ him. Melody jokes that all Edwin had to do was show up and ‘push the button.’ She utilized her theatrical skills by gently ‘directing’ the real life dramas that Edwin photographed – weddings, b’nai mitzvah, etc. Observing many different religious traditions at these life cycle events, she recognized their relationship to Judaism and felt called to learn more.
Her other position as a music and Hebrew teacher at Temple Beth-El in Allentown also challenged her to fill the lacunae in her education. Melody credits Cantor Kevin D. Wartell for opening up new vistas in Jewish Music and education to her.
At a women’s Rosh Chodesh service, Melody observed two women engaged in a very heated debate over a point of Jewish law. The ferocity of their discourse astounded her. She had just witnessed her first Talmudic chevruta discussion. Dr. Tamar Earnest, one of the participants, suggested that Melody consider the rabbinate. When Melody asked her children what they thought about the idea, they answered: ‘We always knew you were going to become a rabbi, Momma!’
There were obstacles to surmount, however. Commuting from Allentown, PA was not a viable option. At the AJR orientation, another new student walked over, stuck out her hand and said: ‘Hi, I’m Peg. If you ever need a place to stay, I’m suffering from ’empty nest.’ Melody has happily lived three days a week for the last six years with Rabbi Peg and Dr. Aaron Kershenbaum. The love, care and comfort that they have provided has been incredible.
While attending AJR, Melody was awarded a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from Gratz College and was honored to be the Salutatorian of her class. She has been awarded numerous academic awards including graduate prizes in Liturgy, Hebrew, Continuing Education, and the Rema Feinberg Award for Excellence in Jewish Studies.
Melody has been privileged to serve as student rabbi at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, PA. She thanks them for their friendship, encouragement and the opportunity to experiment. She is grateful to Rabbi Dr. Robert Lennick of KI who served selflessly as teacher, mentor and friend for two years.
Melody’s appreciation to Tamar and Bill Earnest for their help and guidance is boundless. She is grateful to her hubbetzin Edwin for his love, patience and encouragement. She offers a heartfelt hug of thanks to her children, Spencer, Jonathon and Annelise and her beloved Mother, Pearl Glatt. The friends and family who have supported Melody in this endeavor are too numerous to thank individually. She feels blessed to have you as part of her life.