Cantor Dana S. Anesi was installed as Alumni Member of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Board of Governors on May 5, 2008, at the Board's meetings in New York.
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR said, "This is a historic moment in the history of the College-Institute, as we induct Cantor Dana Anesi as the first cantor to become a member of the Board of Governors. We look forward to the benefit of Cantor Dana Anesi's wisdom and guidance as a representative of all of the alumni of the College-Institute."
Cantor Anesi has served HUC-JIR in a number of volunteer positions, including serving as a past president of the Cantorial Alumni Association and as incoming Chair of the HUC-JIR Alumni Council. In expressing her gratitude to Rabbi David Ellenson and the Board of Governors for the privilege of being the first of the non-rabbinical alumni of HUC-JIR to be inducted onto the Board, Cantor Anesi said, "I look forward to representing all of the alumni of the College-Institute: rabbis, cantors, educators, communal service professionals, and scholars, who serve the Jewish and larger community worldwide with honor and distinction. As we count each sheaf of barley in this period of s'firat ha'omer (the 49 days of counting theOmer between Passover and Shavuot), I view my appointment as an affirmation that every one of us is truly valued and counted, and thank Rabbi Ellenson and the Board of Governors for their leadership on this sacred journey, bringing us to this momentous and joyous time."
Cantor Anesi was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Freehold, NJ. While in high school, she was an active member of her youth group, and a songleader for the Jersey Federation of Temple Youth - part of the youth movement of the Union for Reform Judaism. She has been a camper, staff member, and faculty member at the URJ's Kutz Camp; a staff and faculty member at the Eisner Camp-Institute, and served on the faculty for a URJ Summer Kallah. She graduated from HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music in 1980, served Temple Beth Torah in Dix Hills, NY for two years, and has been the cantor at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua, NY since 1982.
In addition to being the incoming Chair of the Alumni Council (beginning July 2008) and past president of the Cantorial Alumni Association; Cantor Anesi is a current member of the School of Sacred Music Advisory Council, and, until last year, chaired the Joint Cantorial Placement Commission for the American Conference of Cantors and the URJ, which oversees the placement of cantors for the Reform Movement. She received her honorary doctorate in 2005 from HUC-JIR, and is currently a 2nd year student in the HUC-JIR Doctor of Ministry program.
Cantor Anesi has one child, David Troupp, who is a second year student at Benjamin Cardozo Law School in New York City.
History of the Alumni Leadership Council
The Alumni Council of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion was formed in the 1994/1995 academic year. Representatives of the Schools of Graduate Studies, Jewish Communal Service, Rabbinic Studies, Sacred Music, and the Rhea Hirsch School of Education served on the Council. In 2003 the Council added two seats for representatives of the New York School of Education. The Council's mission from its inception until today is to bring the alumni together to both support the work of the alumni associations and to further the work of the College-Institute.
Dr. Gary Zola guided the formation of the group in its initial years. The first meeting of the Council was held in spring 1995 at HUC-JIR in New York. The Alumni Council's first program was an alumni lunch at the 1995 UAHC Biennial in Atlanta. The Alumni Breakfast at the URJ Biennial in San Diego in November 2007 will be the seventh Biennial alumni event.
In July 2002 the College-Institute engaged the first full-time National Director of Alumni Affairs, Joy Wasserman, an alumna of the RHSOE. She supports the work of all the HUC-JIR Alumni Associations and the Alumni Council.
The existence of the Alumni Council both reflects and contributes to many of the innovations at the College-Institute. The chairperson of the Council represents the Council on the HUC-JIR Board of Governors. A representative of the Council served on the Presidential Search Committee. The Alumni Council participated in the discussions that led to the awarding of honorary doctorates as early as 1999 to alumni of the Schools of Education, Jewish Communal Service, and Sacred Music. For the first time, at graduation in 2006, meritorious alumni of the School of Graduate Studies were awarded a medallion in honor of their twenty-five years of service.
In July 2003 the Council changed its name from the Alumni Council to the Alumni Leadership Council. Council members believed that this new name more accurately described its membership and purpose. The Council continues to be a place where all matters concerning alumni and their involvement in and connection to the College-Institute are discussed with follow up actions taken.
Recent agenda items have included: representation on the Board of Governors for all Schools, continuing alumni education, the on-line alumni directory, alumni participation in recruitment of students, mentoring students and recent graduates, grant development, alumni development, communication, and the strategic planning process of the College-Institute. Meetings of the Council include sharing of "best practices." to encourage each Association to do what it can to best reach out to its members and encourage the involvement of all alumni.