Cantor Susan Wehle, of Amherst, N.Y. passed suddenly and tragically on Continental Flight 3407 February 12th 2009. Susan was a cantor at Temple Beth Am ...
Cantor Susan Wehle, of Amherst, N.Y. passed suddenly and tragically on Continental Flight 3407 February 12th 2009. Susan was a cantor at Temple Beth Am and was a mother of two wonderful sons, whom she spoke of often, with great love and pride
Tribute created by:
2 years, 10 months
I will never forget your kind heart and compassionate care of my mother. Or your help for her to realize one of her closely guarded dreams.
I wish you peace and light Susan.
I rember you cantering at the decation of the Rt 62 Operation Dignity site in Gowanda. You helped give dignity to the lost & forgotton souls from the Old Gownada Pshy Hospital. Your song will live in my heart. Thank you. Faith Tanner-Thrush
I will not let you go, Susan. I will not allow your love for life and even more, your love for Judaism be swallowed by the earth’s crust of a burning airplane.
For me, I entered Temple Beth Am openly saying to you that I did not enjoy your singing, your high pitched voice or even the attempts to add bongo drums to the Friday night services. Having been raised in a Jewish Conservative/Orthodox lifestyle, I wanted the traditional baritone voice emanating from the bimah. I had come to Temple Beth Am for the sake of my son’s Bar Mitzvah and eventually met you who changed my life even though I resisted over and over to hear your voice call out to me.
A few years ago I joined your Service Leadership Class with the belief that my previous experiences of being a temporary chazzan in my youthful days would add to the enjoyment of attending every Friday night service. Our class of extremely diverse people melded into a ‘family’ of lay people who rose to the occasion of actually leading a Friday night service and experiencing the thrill of a grateful number of congregants who provided all of us with praise and encouragement for what we accomplished. We became disciples of you, your desire for continual progress with our singing, and your vast interpretation of the dynamics of what was really happening during the Seder. Even though I sang with an Ashkenazi dialect, it was you who allowed me to be me and still feel connected to the thrill of celebrating this Seder through your teaching. I gained tremendous respect for your abounding energy to help us through the tough spots, your compassionate challenge toward excellence in how we were saying the prayers, and your wisdom to connect all of our individual past experiences to the interpretation of the Friday night service; we felt as though we had been through a two year graduate training program in the several weeks that we practiced with you! We no longer just sang the words; we enjoyed the deep feeling of each sound that helped us connect to being Jewish! Singing became like praying twice – once for the words and their meaning and the second time for the thrill of feeling each sound and how it breathed life into the celebration of being Jewish!
I was amazed at your courage to accept my differences while still keeping true to your beliefs of an egalitarian lifestyle for women in the Jewish religion. I had a lot of personal challenges within the Reform movement of Temple Beth Am and you were the one person who encouraged me to take more risks toward enjoying Judaism while still clutching onto many traditions that were part of my remembrances as a child. You helped us start a Bikkur Cholim, helping the sick, group that visited people who were in need of feeling accepted and actually provided us with a contemporary course in pastoral counseling; an hour with you was exhausting but breath-taking in its revelation of what we could do as lay people for the Temple. We were creating a booklet of faith and hope that would be a part of our Temple’s outreach program that would include your recorded songs. We still have some unfinished pages to complete…with your help!
I will not let go of what you’ve helped create within me. I believe that I am a better person for having allowed you to touch my life and I accepted your hugs as a continual blessing toward being Jewish at Temple Beth Am.
Mac I. Barnett – Member of Temple Beth Am
Susan was one of the "Seven Sisters", a group of seven women who lived, laughed,sang,danced and shared our lives together for over twenty years.We continued to meet as many times a year as we could,and we shared the most precious and beautiful times together. We always had a blast, so much fun, so many laughs! Susan was a treasure of a woman, with the voice of an angel. A true friend, a soul sister. I miss you so much. You are so deeply loved, and so deeply missed. Baruch Hashem. Belinda Agar.
Susan...my memory of you goes back to the beginning of DLTI (the first!) and the many years after...always SO happy to see you, catch up, share, support one another in our struggles and joys and celebrations......and then you became my smicha sister-3 years ago we shared that very deep and very powerful ordination ceremony where you became Cantor and I Rabbi.....and seeing you every year since. Always made me happy in my heart to share with you. I have been heartbroken at your sudden loss in this world, but I am comforted by understanding that some of us have had the privilege to share a connection of the neshamah that goes beyond friendship or just colleagues...it is a sacred sharing, and i thank you for showing this to me. I send love and care to your family and your congregation and all those whose hearts are torn.
Rabbi Chaya Gusfield (Oakland, CA)
I spent a great deal of time at the Migraine Clinic in Georgetown Ontario with Susan. I enjoyed hearing about her life, her community and her family. As a fellow migraine sufferer I was so amazed that Susan was able to accomplish so much and give so much to so many people while suffering from intense chronic pain.
I am shocked and saddened by her loss and my warmest wishes go out to her family and friends.
Thinking of Susan,
Our whole family is deeply saddened at this time. Susan performed the baby naming ceremony for our granddaughter Lyla about a year and half ago. She was so lovely and made this special occassion for our family one we will never forget. We did not know her before the ceremony, but she made us all feel warm and special-especially the baby. Our sincere sympathy to her family , but the memories of a beautiful woman will always be there for you
Judy and Barry Baron (Williamsville, NY)