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Kahn Scholar-in-Residence

Cantor Josh Breitzer

April 22 – 24

Cantor Josh Breitzer of Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE) and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion’s (HUC-JIR) Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music be serving as the Rabbi Robert & Rozelle Kahn Scholar-in-Residence during the weekend of April 22-24 at Congregation Emanu El.

The scholar-in-residence program is funded by the Rabbi Robert & Rozelle Kahn Lectureship Fund which has since its creation brought top Reform scholars and clergy to our community as guests.

Cantor Breitzer has served CBE since receiving ordination from HUC-JIR in 2011. He leads the community through prayer and song, teaches chanting and ritual skills to people of all ages, and helps turn special moments into sacred occasions. During his decade of innovative cantorial stewardship, CBE has become a beacon of dynamic, pluralistic ritual activity, attracting international attention and growing to over 1000 member units.

Named by The Forward in its “Soundtrack of Our Spirit” series as one of the best new Jewish music voices, Cantor Breitzer has sung at concert halls and synagogues across the country. He appears throughout the PBS documentary “The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale” and helped create the New York Festival of Song’s acclaimed cabaret “A Goyishe Christmas to You” in which he has performed every year since 2010. Among his most influential mentors were Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner, Cantor Lawrence Avery, and Dr. Jack Gottlieb, whose artistic legacy Cantor Breitzer continues to preserve and promote.

In addition to his congregational cantor duties, Cantor Breitzer is a dedicated instructor at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music where he advises and coaches students and teaches courses on integrative repertoire for Shabbat and Yom Kippur. An alumnus of the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, he strives to model in all his work how one might weave traditional and contemporary liturgical settings into a holistic, compelling prayer experience. His former cantorial interns have gone on to serve prominent communities throughout the progressive Jewish world.

Beyond his work at CBE and with our Reform Movement’s seminary, Cantor Breitzer is also active in the American Conference of Cantors (ACC). Originally elected to the ACC board in 2015 and to the officer team in 2016, Cantor Breitzer served from 2016-2019 as Vice President for Professional Development, External Policy and Placement and since 2019, as Vice President for Membership and External Partnerships.

A listing of events during the weekend in residency with Cantor Breizter can be found below.

Passover Yizkor (hybrid)

Friday, April 22, 10:30 a.m.

We are honored to have Cantor Breitzer begin his weekend-in-residence with us by lending his voice and spirit to our Passover Yizkor service. Join Cantor Breitzer, Cantor Simmons and Rabbi Hayon as they lead us in beautiful reflective prayer as we remember our loved ones and commemorate the end of our Passover observance. This service will be streamed on our website, Facebook, YouTube and Roku. Please call the synagogue or reference future synagogue communications for location.

Heritage Shabbat (hybrid)

Friday, April 22, 6:00 p.m.

Our Heritage Shabbat will be enhanced by Cantor Breitzer’s leadership. Cantors Breitzer and Simmons will join their voices with organist Ann Frohbieter and our professional choir to lift our prayers to new heights. We will hear cherished melodies as well as some less familiar settings and learn from Cantor Breitzer as he presents a sermon in song. This service will be streamed on our website through the Barish Sanctuary streaming video page, Facebook, YouTube and Roku.

Breakfast & Study "The Song of Redemption and the Song of Confession" (in-person)

Saturday, April 23

8:30 a.m., breakfast
9:00 a.m., study

In the last days of Passover, we recount the Exodus from Egypt and the ancient tune sung by the Israelites on the shores the sea. Throughout Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, we count our shortcomings by tapping our hearts in time to a version of that same tune. How can this be? Come and learn more about the musical connection between two starkly contrasting sacred occasions.

This study will be held in the Oshman Multi-Purpose Room and include an optional pre-study breakfast. To help us plan accordingly, we ask that you RSVP online or by calling 713.529.5771.

Click here to register online.

Shabbat Morning Service

Saturday, April 23, 10:30 a.m.

We are thrilled to have Cantor Breitzer be a part of our Shabbat morning worship service.

Breakfast & Learn: “Synagogue Music and the Great American Songbook” (in-person)

Sunday, April 24

10:00 a.m., breakfast
10:30 a.m., learning

While the melodies of URJ summer camps started making their way into URJ sanctuaries, one composer steeped in the standards of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and their contemporaries was writing liturgical settings inspired by their popular stylings. That composer was also an authority on and associate of the incomparable Leonard Bernstein, and followed his lead in pushing the limits of what tonal music could be. Join us for a fascinating exploration of a little-known but hugely impactful artistic legacy!

This study will be held in the Oshman Multi-Purpose Room and include an optional pre-study breakfast. To help us plan accordingly, we ask that you RSVP online or by calling 713.529.5771.

Click here to register online.

For questions about any of the program offerings during the weekend, please contact Jason Plotkin at jason@emanuelhouston.org or 713.535.6414.