Shlichei Tzibur Training Program

This program is 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 

Empowering Prayer Leaders, with Cantor Sheila Nesis

Beginning May 25, 2021, classes will be held monthly on Tuesday evenings, 7–8:30 p.m.

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. We received an incredible amount of interest in this program, with more applicants than available spots. Applications have closed, but depending on the success of this first cohort, the Center and partners may consider offering a second cohort next year—stay tuned!

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

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

Learn Torah and Haftarah Cantillation

In addition to the Shlichei Tzibur program, the Center for Small Town Jewish Life is pleased to offer training in Torah and Haftarah trope with the Center’s Rabbinical Student Fellow Eliana Willis starting in January 2022. If you are interested in receiving updates on this opportunity, please contact Liz Snider at [email protected]

About Our Educator

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.