Hotel Reservation Deadline Extended to Friday, May 3

The convention is almost upon us. I have managed to get an extension from the hotel, but our final rooming list must be submitted to the hotel by this Friday, May 3, 2013.  Once the hotel receives our rooming list, they will release any unused rooms for public sale.  Should you wish to book a room after that date, the hotel has the right to charge you the full rack room rate, substantially higher than our negotiated convention price. Our room block is filling up fast right now.

PLEASE DON’T WAIT!  If you are anticipating joining hundreds of your colleagues for what will undoubtedly be one of our finest conventions, you must act now.  We must also give our final meal counts to the hotel staff and to the caterer for the Wednesday evening dinner at Park Avenue Synagogue.  Don’t miss the great concerts at the hotel, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and at Park Avenue Synagogue at which time we will install Nancy Abramson as the Cantors Assembly’s first female President.  This has been a long time coming!

To go directly to the online registration form, go to, or call Jessica at Ayelet at
800-237-1517, ext 315.

See you soon!
Eric Snyder

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The CA Intensive in Homiletics: Carrying Your Jewish Message

Today’s clergy are called upon to speak in an ever-expanding variety of settings – from sermons and eulogies to teaching to addressing the media and commenting on events of the day. This is not always easy. As hazzanim, we have been called to sing unto the Lord — but to speak?

The Bible’s first great musical innovator, King David, may here be our guide: “Va’adab’ra v’eidotecha neged m’lachim v’lo eivosh — I will speak of your statues before kings and not be ashamed.” (Ps. 119:46)  We as cantors have a unique message and perspective to share with the world. This year’s special track in homiletics is designed to give you practical skills in speaking and communication in order to share that message and to serve the Jewish people with renewed fullness.

On Monday,  Rabbi-Hazzan Seth Adelson, Associate Rabbi of Temple Israel in Great Neck, will lead us in an important workshop in Funeral Skills, including interviewing the family, writing a eulogy, and facilitating the service and burial. This detailed and interactive session will empower you so that you can lead a funeral or serve as solo clergy with renewed confidence.

On Tuesday, Hazzan Jack Kessler, Director of the Cantorial Program of ALEPH (Alliance for Jewish Renewal), will offer us an creative approach to expressing sacred text in “Making Torah Live: A Workshop in the Art of the Ba’al Korei.” The workshop will demo the use of expressive Hebrew leynen with interpretively leyned midrashic English to bring the text alive. Participants will come away with a new way to leyn and communicate, learning the high art of the ba’al korei as a channel of living Torah.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Senior Rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue, will lead the way with a workshop including his own methodology and strategies for Crafting a D’var Torah. A leading voice in the Conservative Movement and the author of many collected sermons, Rabbi Cosgrove most recently served as a guest lecturer in homiletics with the H.L. Miller Cantorial School. This appearance will reprise his acclaimed workshop, and give us the chance to learn the art of the d’var from one of the leading rabbis of our generation.

And on Thursday, Mr. Mort Milder, a twenty-five year veteran writer and executive coach for companies like IBM, Apple, and PepsiCo, will present “Singing without Notes – Public Speaking for Cantors.” How can you present your message with confidence and ease (be it a d’var, eulogy, or teaching)? This workshop will help you build the skills required to focus your message, address each audience’s unique needs, and communicate with clarity, warmth and passion.

The goal of this intensive is to empower your voice as hazzan — a unique and important voice in the life the Jewish people. We hope that these sessions will give you the courage of David HaMelech to speak without shame, sharing your message to the world with renewed confidence and faith.

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Last Chance for $100 Discount

Are you an early bird or a late bird?  The early bird special price for registering for this year’s outstanding CA Convention (May 19-23) goes up $100 after April 1st. We realize how busy you are, so we are reminding and encouraging you to register this week.  Be an early bird!

Go to and under Conventions slide down Cantors Assembly.

If you want vocal coaching, a guitar lesson, sing in a late night program or have any other questions check out the info in the back of the brochure for the people to contact.
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Social Media and Technology Intensive

The following article by Mike Weis highlights one of the Intensive Tracks at this year’s convention. To register for the convention and any of the tracks go to: and slide down under Conferences to the Cantors Convention.

Sheldon Levin

Essential Skills for Social Media and Technology

According to Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, “Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.” While we might not be dealing with that many people in our day-to-day lives, the indisputable fact is that the Internet and other new technologies are changing the face of the world as we know it: politically, socially, spiritually and yes, musically. The extent to which we adapt to this new reality is the extent to which we will succeed as individual cantors and as a profession, especially as it relates to how we communicate with our youth.

In the Social Media and Technology intensive track, you will be introduced to some of the most important tools that have been transforming our culture and the lives of our students and congregants. On Day 1, Miriam Brousseau, recently named as one of the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” young innovators who are transforming Jewish life, will lead a session on how to make the most of social media.

Day 2 will feature, Tom Buechler of Trope Trainer and Rabbi Charlie Schwartz and Russel Neiss, creators of the popular PocketTorah and PocketTorah Trope apps who will introduce us to using and developing mobile apps for smartphones and tablets.

On Day 3, we’ll hear from Cantors Daniel Mendelson and Eric Contzius, who will show us the basics of creating and distributing digital video on such popular websites as YouTube.

Day 4 will feature an exciting split session: Cantor Steve Hevenstone will offer essential insights into using music notation software, and Cantor Joe Gole and Geoffrey Neil will demonstrate how to use the CyberMitzvah website they created to manage and track all the details relating to B’nei Mitzvah students and their progress and how to creat one for your shul.

This intensive has been designed with one thought in mind: to provide you with insights into some of the most important tools and technologies that are currently in common use by our colleagues and congregants. Whether you are a technology maven or novice, you will gain invaluable understanding into how these technologies can enable you to make connections with your congregants and make you more effective in your cantorate.

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Announcing our Intensives–Chaplaincy Track

More and more of us are called upon to serve in a pastoral care setting, and many more have expressed interest in developing this area of our Cantorate, especially on the heels of last year’s very meaningful Yom Iyun at JTS, devoted to the practice of chaplaincy.

This May at our Convention in the Meadowlands, we will be offering a chaplaincy track as one of our four-day intensives, along with homiletics, 21st century programming, social media/technology, and Songleader Boot Camp.  For each intensive, we have an amazing slate of presenters and an action-packed schedule on each of the four days of convention. On behalf of the 2013 Convention chairs, I am very excited to present the first of five “teasers,” from Sheri Allen, that give a taste of the intensives we are offering this year.

Chaplaincy Track

A young Rabbi recently once said, “of all the responsibilities I have as a Rabbi, I like Pastoral Care the least.”  Although many of us may be reluctant to admit it, it’s likely that the Rabbi’s feelings are shared by many.   What do you say when you walk into a congregant’s hospital room, or home, or hospice facility, or even prison cell?  What don’t you say?  How can we make them feel better, or should that even be a goal?  It’s not an easy task, but it’s truly a sacred one, and joining us on the chaplaincy track can make it an easier one as well.

Each day will focus on a different aspect of chaplaincy work:  Join us  as our track begins with Hazzan Debbie Tanzer-Cohen and Rabbi Neal Loevinger as they explain “The Pastoral Basics every clergy member should know,”  and learn why the Chaplain’s motto is:  “Don’t just do something: stand there!”

Day two will focus on Pastoral Care for interfaith families and families with gender issues, and will be facilitated by Hazzanim Bob Scherr and Michael Horwitz. On Day three,  Hazzanim Michael Zoosman and Richard Wolberg will tackle the challenge of crisis counseling in psych hospitals, prisons and within the police department.  Our series will end on Day four with Hazzanim Riki Lippitz and Kim Komrad focusing on end of life issues, and the role that music plays in comfort care.

We guarantee that you will develop skills that will be instrumental in helping congregants, clients and patients through life’s most difficult challenges.  Join us for a learning experience that will impact your life, and the lives of all those you touch.

Cantor Sheri Allen

Chair, Chaplaincy Track

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Convention Flyer is Here!!

At long last…here it is friends, the complete program for this year’s convention. Check out the great work of co-chairs Nancy Abramson, Joanna Dulkin and Sheldon Levin.

Convention 2013 flyer

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From the Co-chairs

I am writing this on New Year’s Eve having just finished reading the last print edition of Newsweek (future editions will only be available online). EMI, one of the largest recording companies of recent decades today went out of business because the music world has gone digital. A recent book “Who Moved My Cheese” tells in a cute way the dilemma faced by many these days whose business model no longer is successful and workers must seek new ways of surviving.

Often on Jan. first we resolve to lose weight, exercise more or change some aspect of our lives. I would like to encourage all cantors to be part of the changes that are happening in our congregations and profession. I hope we can each commit to learning new skills and ideas that will best serve us individually and all of us collectively into the future.

This year’s Cantors Assembly Convention, May 19-23, 2013, plans to help you do that in many ways. We will have a professional marketing expert, Steve Cony, who will speak at the Annual Meeting about how the Cantors Assembly can address the challenges of today. He will speak on Thursday morning about how each of us can “rebrand ourselves” to meet the needs of 21st century congregations.

We will have “intensives” which will meet each day for 90 minutes so that at the end of this conference you will have learned new skills, techniques, programs or ideas that will help your career. While most of us are comfortable with things we already know, I would hope you will try to stretch yourself and select an area in which you are not already an expert to study. The intensives include Chaplaincy, Homiletics, Spirituality, Song Leading, Tech & Social Media, and 21st Century Programs including Theater, Informal Education, new prayer teaching games and much more.

In the next few weeks you can see the complete schedule of workshops, guest speakers, concerts, performances, films, trips, meetings and fun. Important programs will take place on Sunday afternoon and Thursday morning (the Executive Committee will be on Monday at the same time as some guest speakers). Please try to join us for the entire convention. Our Convention chairs, Nancy Abramson, Joanna Dulkin and myself, believe we can learn much more in multi-day workshops than from one shot individual lectures. We know there will be many concurrent sessions and choices may be difficult but CDs will be available to purchase and “hand-outs” will be online for sessions you missed.

Friend our Facebook site:

and check our webpage frequently

for updates to the program and more information. Please invite cantors of all movements and interested lay people as well.

The registration form will soon be available and the brochure will be finished shortly. The brochure includes contact info for people who would like to volunteer to leyn, daven, and give divrei Torah and for those who would like free vocal or cantorial coaching or free guitar lessons at any level.

We call this Convention “LEILA” because we truly wish to raise ourselves higher as individuals and as a profession. With your help this will be an amazing opportunity to grow, learn and shape our future.

Happy New Year,

Hazzan Sheldon Levin

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