KOL ISHAH, Literally

Visiting San Deigo last summer, I did—subconsciously— what I always do in my travels, I searched for signs of Yiddishkeit. And I found an unexpected reward.

One sunny afternoon, driving south on El Camino Real in nearby Encinitas, I spotted a sign for Temple Solel. I pulled in.

Clearly, this was serendipitous! There in the parking lot stood a car with the license plate “KOLISHA,” a phrase I knew from LILITH magazine as “Voice of Woman.” I went inside and found out that the car belongs to Cantor Kathy Robbins, who welcomed me into the sanctuary. I mentioned the “Kol Isha” column in LILITH, and found out that Robbins was already a LILITH reader.

In addition to serving as cantor of the 500 family congregation, Robbins writes and performs Yiddish and liturgical music. Several years ago, on an airline trip to the east coast, a fellow passanger noticed that she was studying Hebrew music and engaged her in conversation. Robbins explained that she was preparing liturgical music for a cassette, “Singing Through The Jewish Seasons,” which she was on her way to record in New York City. Impressed with her endeavors, the stranger responded, “You are kol isha.”

Robbins was touched by their conversation, and by the time the plane landed, she had settled on KOLISHA as the name of her new production company. Robbins explains, “Shortly after I signed the papers for KOLISHA Productions, I had KOLISHA printed on my license plate. It’s always a thrill when people know what it means,”