Shlichei Tzibur Prayer Leader Training Program


Empowering Worship Service Leaders, with Cantor Sheila Nesis 

Monthly classes on Tuesday evenings, 7–8:30 p.m.

Beginning Tuesday, May 25 

Made possible by the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, the Messerschmidt Memorial Fund at the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, and the Covenant Foundation 

This yearlong experience is designed to empower individuals to lead worship services, shiva minyans, singing circles, and more within their own communities. Through monthly online classes and individual coaching sessions with Cantor Nesis, participants will build the skills needed to succeed as prayer leaders.

Enrollment is limited.   

Application deadline: Friday, April 23
Applicants will be notified of acceptance to the program by Friday, May 7.

Click here to apply:

Questions? Please contact Liz Snider at [email protected].  

The training program is designed to

  • Explore our understanding of liturgy 
  • Renew and refine our perspectives on our prayers and what it means to lead them 
  • Share prayer insights, practices, and melodies 

We will strive to

  • Inspire each other through deep listening and conversation. 
  • Become more intentional in our roles as shlichei tzibur. 

For whom is it intended?  

  • For individuals of all backgrounds interested in deepening their understanding of Jewish worship, liturgy, and music. 
  • For those who would like to take on a prayer leader role, and for those who would like to deepen their own prayer and spiritual practices. 
  • For those who like to sing, read, write, pray, feel connected, offer themselves to the community
  • For everybody! 

Participants should have basic proficiency in reading prayer-book Hebrew.

What specific areas and practical skills will be covered? 

There will be three main tracks: Davening, Song, and Spirituality


  • Understanding the structure of Friday evening and Shacharit Shabbat worship 
  • Understanding the role of the Shaliach Tzibur (emissary of the congregation) 
  • Learning Nusach (traditional liturgical motifs) 
  • How to outline and lead a worship service (Kabbalat Shabbat and Shacharit Shabbat) 
  • Gain confidence in offering creative Kavanot (intentions) 


  • Learn a range of melodies and niggunim for worship, shiva visits, song circles, including non-liturgical music 
  • Learn basic techniques to engage others in communal singing


  • Studying traditional and creative liturgy 
  • Exploring personal prayer practices 
  • Exploring meditation 

There will be opportunities for one-on-one practice time with Cantor Nesis. Various resources including Spotify lists, original recordings, poetry, and creative kavanot, will be provided.  

Sheila Nesis is a cantor and mother of two. She most recently served as cantor at Temple Sinai in Denver, Colorado. Prior to that, she served progressive congregations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and New York City. Her writings appear in various Jewish publications, including Kveller, The Forward, and Ritualwell, among others. Originally from Argentina, she currently resides in Portland, Maine. 

Tuition: $120 for the yearlong program ($10/month for class and individual coaching). 

Cost should not be a barrier to participating in this program. We encourage applicants who belong to a synagogue to speak with their rabbi or other synagogue leadership about supporting their participation in this program. If cost is still prohibitive, please email [email protected] and we will find a way to work with you. 


The Center for Small Town Jewish Life is pleased to offer training in Torah and Haftarah trope with the Center’s Rabbinical Fellow Eliana Willis starting in late fall 2021 (date to be determined). If you are interested, please contact Liz Snider at [email protected].