Over three decades of music: May announces retirement from Metairie’s Gates of Prayer

Rabbi David Gerber, Rabbi Lexi Erdheim and Cantorial Soloist Tory May at the pre-Rosh Hashanah “Sinners and Saints” early service for those attending the Saints game on the first night of the holiday.

After 32 years as cantorial soloist and musical director at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, Victoria May announced she will be retiring on June 30.

This is the second recent long-term retirement at Gates of Prayer. In June 2018, Rabbi Robert Loewy retired after leading the congregation since 1984.

May said it is “bittersweet” to make the announcement, but in a letter to the congregational leadership, she said “32 years is a long time to be doing the same job, and I believe the time is right for me to start exploring other areas of interest.”

She added that Gates of Prayer “will always be home for me” even if she is not there on a daily basis.

After graduating in 1983 with a degree in theater from the University of New Orleans, she was music director for a Presbyterian church and a Tulane University vocal group, as well as cantorial soloist for congregations in Shreveport and Asheville, N.C.

In addition to leading music at Gates of Prayer since 1987, she initiated Kol Simcha, a volunteer choir; K’lai Simcha, a volunteer band; and the Friday Night Live contemporary music service. She was also part of Beignet Yisrael, a quartet of New Orleans Jewish music professionals that released two albums.

In recent years, she also served as the congregation’s communications director, editing the monthly bulletins and weekly emails.

In an email to the congregation, Gates of Prayer President Aaron Wolfson said “It is with great appreciation and sadness that we will be saying goodbye to Tory, as she has been an integral part of our community for more than three decades. Her contributions to our spiritual and worship experiences will be felt for years to come.”

An event in tribute to her decades of service will be organized, “probably in early June,” Wolfson said.