Cantor Jill Abramson '02

Director, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music
HUC/New York

Jill Abramson Headshot

Please tell me about your Jewish journey and your journey to HUC-JIR.
My Jewish journey to HUC-JIR has many parts, but one part includes living in Cameroon, West Africa, working with Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, volunteering in Indonesia, and continued involvement with the American Jewish World Service. I’m energized by the nexus of Jewish values and international human rights work. I’m also a graduate of HUC-JIR and have served as adjunct faculty starting in 2013.

Please tell me about your role, and what is most challenging and rewarding.
The challenge is also the greatest strength: to find ways to keep our musical inheritance relevant and infuse that inheritance with an immediacy.

What makes the DFSSM so special?
The DFSSM is a living example of legacy and innovation: we study music of past generations together with newly composed pieces, and faculty and student composers set ancient texts in contemporary musical idioms. I love the creativity that comes from fusing legacy and innovation.

How do your pulpit cantorate and your DFSSM administrative role enrich each other?
Broadly speaking, my role here is to help advance the mission of the DFFSM; I wear two hats: faculty and administration. As a faculty member, I’m a musical coach, a t’fillah mentor, and an academic advisor. As an administrator, I work closely with the Director in areas of recruitment, admissions, curriculum and alumni engagement.

The theme of this issue is Gratitude. What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for science and vaccines. I am also grateful to learn new things at each stage of my life.

How would you describe HUC-JIR in one word?

What do you enjoy in your free time?
I enjoy hiking, yoga, indoor cycling, farmers markets, outdoor music festivals, swimming, fishing, and kayaking. I love being on the water.