Getting to Know Cantor Nancy Abramson

Posted on Jun 24, 2021

Cantor Nancy Abramson is director of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music, and senior lecturer of hazzanut at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Cantor Nancy Abramson grew up in a Conservative synagogue in Milwaukee. Her mother was active in sisterhood and supported Torah Fund.   As this was part of her upbringing, it was no wonder that when she was a student at JTS, she was delighted to visit sisterhoods to help support Torah Fund. This gave her the opportunity to perform, then meet and enjoy a meal with some of her benefactors. 

In recent times, JTS cantorial students have also enjoyed visiting sisterhoods around the country and are very much in demand for virtual presentations. Quite often sisterhoods have done more than simply sponsor a meeting or event; they’ve taken these students under their wings and have helped them develop their interviewing skills, or have offered stipends for purchasing business attire.

Cantor Abramson is proud of having been the director of the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue and helped oversee the renovation sponsored and financed by Torah Fund. This space, precious and meaningful to students and faculty, serves as the center of Jewish life at JTS.  She is a past president of the Cantors Assembly, the first woman to hold this office in the sixty years of the Assembly.  At their most recent convention at the end of May, Cantor Abramson was honored with the establishment of a new award in her name, the first such Cantors Assembly award named for a woman. The Cantor Nancy Abramson Hazon Visionary Award will be presented bi-annually to a colleague who shows visionary leadership.

Cantorial students certainly need to be musically talented, proficient in Hebrew, and see themselves as leaders. In order to hone these talents and qualities, Cantor Abramson added seminars to the curriculum for cantorial and rabbinical students, to learn to work together as a team and develop new ideas and models for clergy partnership.  She has observed that Conservative Jewish women today are quite courageous, taking risks and seizing opportunities in their fields. She noted that Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz has helped elevate women by virtue of her new position.  Having positive models enables women to imagine their own potential, with more women assuming leadership roles. Women are paving the way for other women.

Cantor Abramson’s work has always been meaningful to her, as is evident by her dedication. With over thirty years of service as a cantor and a decade leading the cantorial school, she is opening doors for all the women who follow.

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