Library talk here will reflect on the Torah and the challenging path to becoming a chanter

Library talk here will reflect on the Torah and the challenging path to becoming a chanter

A Jewish woman and librarian at the University of St. Thomas will discuss the Torah and the path to becoming a chanter in an upcoming talk in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.

Linda Hulbert, associate director of technical services for the St. Thomas library system, will speak on “Studying Torah: Learning to Chant, Learning to Appreciate” from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, in the library’s O’Shaughnessy Room (often called “the leather room” because of its comfortable chairs).

Linda Hulbert

The Torah, Judaism’s primary document, is made up of the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Portions of it are either read or, more often, chanted at temple services.

Hulbert is one of about two dozen lay members of the Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka who take turns chanting the Torah at Friday services.

It’s not easy. The Torah scroll has no vowels or punctuation, nor does it have cantillation marks that indicate how it should be sung. Chanting a section of the Torah requires considerable study, practice and memorization.

For example, a 22-line section (or “parsha”) that Hulbert chanted recently took her nearly half a year to learn … and it took only about seven minutes to sing. She started studying to be a chanter in 2000, but it wasn’t until three years later that she first chanted publicly at her synagogue.

“Learning to chant has led to a greater understanding of my faith,” she said. “You need to understand what it is you are chanting about to do it properly.”

Hulbert has a master’s in library science from the University of Iowa and a master’s in public administration from St. Louis University. Before joining the St. Thomas library in October 2002, she was with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, St. Louis University Health Sciences Library, SUNY Health Sciences Library at Syracuse and the University of Iowa Health Sciences Library.

Refreshments will be served at the March 14 program, which is free and open to all. Some additional information about Hulbert and her talk is available on the library’s Web site at

For more information about the program, call Julie Kimlinger, (651) 962-5014.