February 2, 2023 /

Cantor Emerita Anna West Ott

Ordained in May 1998 from the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City, she has been the Cantor at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple since July 1999. She had a diverse career in central New Jersey as a singer, pianist, guitarist, educator, and choral director long before she came to the cantorate.

She grew up in Metuchen, graduated from Hillel Academy in Perth Amboy and Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, graduated with honors from Douglass College with her BA in Music Education and Piano while taking advanced courses in the Hebraic Studies department, and obtained her MA in Vocal Performance from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). She taught vocal music for ten years in the public schools of Piscataway Township, NJ and taught private students in piano, guitar, voice, Hebrew, and B’nai Mitzvah studies.

Her performing career has integrated her varied talents as singer, pianist, and guitarist ranging from opera and oratorio to musical theater, folk, jazz, madrigals, and cabaret, including featured roles with the Middlesex Opera Company and Plays-in-the-Park.  Cantor Ott’s great love is choral directing and producing memorable performances of Jewish music of all styles. Under her direction, Anshe Emeth’s music program now includes its Junior Choir, Shirei Emet (teen choir) which is also an official Hazamir ensemble, Makhelat Anshe Emet (adult choir), and the Awesome Band made up of her student guitarists and other talented instrumentalists of all ages from within the congregation. In addition, she co-directs Makhelat HaMercaz, the Jewish community chorus of central New Jersey, and founded the Anshe Segulah Men’s Chorus which has sung at the Jewish Federation’s Yom Hashoah observance. In the past she has directed Kol Halayla, the Jewish a cappella ensemble of Rutgers University, and has sung with the New Jersey Cantors Concert Ensemble.

Cantor Ott made her debut at Lincoln Center in June 2004 as soprano soloist in the world premiere of God’s Spirit Lives Among Them by Cantor Charles Osborne. Cantor Ott resides in East Brunswick with her sons Michael, Andrew, and Charlie.