Shlichei Tzibur Training - Center for Small Town Jewish Life

Shlichei Tzibur Training Program

This program is made possible by the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, Central Synagogue, Park Avenue Synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Empowering Prayer Leaders, with Cantor Sheila Nesis

January-June 2023

This six-month experience is designed to empower individuals to lead worship services, shiva minyans, singing circles, and more within their own communities. Through online classes and coaching sessions with Cantor Nesis, participants will build the skills needed to succeed as prayer leaders. Basic prayer book Hebrew is helpful but not required.


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
About the Instructor

Cantor Sheila Nesis has served congregations in Denver, Phoenix, and New York City and is currently Cantor in Residence at Etz Chaim Synagogue in Portland, Maine. She is the creator and educator of the Prayer Leadership Training program at the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. She has been selected to be part of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program beginning in January 2023. Her writings appear in various Jewish publications, including The Times of Israel, Kveller, The Forward, and Ritualwell. Originally from Argentina, she lives in Cumberland Foreside, Maine, with her husband and two children.

Class Readings & Resources Winter-Spring 2023

Class #1: Sunday, Jan. 15, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #2 Sunday, Jan. 29, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, Jan. 31, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #3 Sunday, Feb. 12, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, Feb. 14, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #4 Sunday, March 5, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, March 7, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #5 Sunday, March 26, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, March 28, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #6 Sunday, April 9, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, April 11, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #7 Sunday, April 30, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, May 2, 7-8:30 p.m.
Class #8 Sunday, May 14, 9-10:30 a.m. or Tuesday, May 16, 7-8:30 p.m.
June 9-11: Maine Conference for Jewish Life, Waterville, Maine
Music and Davening Resources