Cantor Jill Abramson has been appointed Interim Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, effective July 1, 2022, after serving as Program Associate since August 1, 2019. Cantor Abramson succeeds Cantor Richard Cohn, who served as DFSSM Director since July 1, 2015, and will be the first woman to direct the DFSSM.
Cantor Abramson offers outstanding gifts and extensive experience to the DFSSM. In her current position of DFSSM Program Associate, she has focused on the areas of curriculum integration, recruitment and admissions, public outreach, and alumni mobilization, and collaborated with Cantor Cohn on aspects of student support and departmental administration. She served as an instructor for Senior Seminar and co-faculty for Contemplative Prayer Practice in the First-Year Program. She also serves as a cantorial coach and recital advisor to the students on the New York campus.
Ordained at HUC-JIR in 2002, Cantor Abramson serves as the sole clergy leader of Congregation Shir Ami of Greenwich, CT, after completing a twelve-year term as Senior Cantor of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. She previously served for five years at Congregation Sukkat Shalom in suburban Chicago, IL, where she was also Director of Education. In addition, combining her love of youth work and the outdoors, Cantor Abramson spent several years as Assistant Director of Shwayder Camp in the Colorado Rockies.
Cantor Abramson holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Grinnell College and brings a strong international commitment to her social justice work, having lived in Cameroon, West Africa, advocated for human rights in the Dominican Republic with American Jewish World Service, taught English with Global Volunteers in Indonesia, and conceived an Israeli and Arab teenage choir as part of the international peace program, Building Bridges for Peace. In her cantorate she has been a passionate teacher, with specializations in the intersection of the arts and Jewish life, and in women’s leadership and learning. She has published articles on “Wrestling with the Gender Politics in Mi Sheberach,” in Lilith in 2018 and “Why I Care About Climate Justice” in Westchester Jewish Life in 2017. She has also lectured at Garrett Theological Seminary and Chicago Theological Seminary.
In New York, Cantor Abramson has sung at Merkin Concert Hall and with the Canadian Chamber Orchestra of New York. She has been the Hebrew Coach for the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Ravinia Festival’s performances of Bernstein’s “Kaddish Symphony” and Schoenberg’s “Survivor From Warsaw.” She has served as a member of the Editorial Board of Transcontinental Music Publication’s recordings NFTY Ruach Compact Disc and Manginot Vol. II, and a featured soloist on its recordings of Shabbat Anthology Volume I and Shirei Tshuvah: Songs of Repentance, for the Days of Awe. She has also been a member of the faculty of the Hava Nashirah, National Songleader Program.