HUC-JIR Presents Doctor of Music, honoris causa, to Suzanne Bernstein

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, awarded Cantor Suzanne Bernstein with the Doctor of Music at Graduation Ceremonies in New York on Thursday, May 5, 2011, at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York.  Cantor Bernstein was honored for 25 years of scholarly distinction as an alumna of HUC-JIR.

As a child, Cantor Bernstein dreamed of being a “singing author naturalist” although she could not explain what that meant.  Through her role as congregational cantor and teacher, Cantor Bernstein has been living her dream, helping people connect to what is most important in life through the power of song. 

Suzanne is currently the cantor of Progressive Synagogue Beth Ahavath Sholom in Boro Park, Brooklyn, and serves as the bnai mitzvah cantor of Temple Beth-El, Hillsborough, New Jersey.  She also tutors bnai mitzvah at Temple Shaaray Tefila, NYC, where she previously served as interim bnai mitzvah cantor.  Suzanne was the cantor of Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island for sixteen years, and she continues to be active in community life and the arts on Staten Island. 

This past year, Cantor Bernstein adapted and wrote an original score for Tolkien’s Silmarillion, presented by Staten Island OutLOUD at the Greenbelt Nature Center with Cantor Bernstein directing the company of readers and musicians.  One of her proudest achievements was receiving the “Arty” award for best actress from the inmates of Arthur Kill Correctional Facility for her guest artist performance as “Nurse Ratched” in an inmate production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” 

By receiving the honorary doctorate, Cantor Bernstein and her daughters, Chaya and Miryam, celebrate triple graduations this spring as Chaya receives her BA from Bryn Mawr College, and Miryam graduates from Stuyvesant High School.  She enjoys cross-country skiing, theater, especially Shakespeare, and indie rock and folk music concerts.

Click here to view the National Ordination/Investiture/Graduation press release.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu