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Cantor Elisa Abrams Cohn

Cantor Elisa Abrams Cohn, a native of Los Angeles, California and a master visionary and leader, thrives on creating transformational opportunities through music, prayer, teaching, relationship building, and innovative programming. Cantor Elisa knew from a very young age that she wanted to pursue the cantorate and inspire those around her to connect with God and Jewish tradition. She was fortunate to have been influenced by her mentor and dear friend, Senior Cantor of Adat Ari El Synagogue, Ira S. Biegeleisen, Rabbi Moshe J. Rothblum (composer of the famous V’Shameru), and fellow congregant and Jewish musician, Craig Taubman. Cantor Bigeleisen taught her to sing when she was just eight years old, and, as she likes to say, “the rest is history.” Following her Bat Mitzvah, Cantor Elisa started teaching B’nei Mitzvah students and Hebrew School, and by the time she was in high school, Cantor Bigeleisen had invited her to sing on stage with world renown cantors and to attend her first Cantors Assembly Convention. Outside of her involvement with Adat Ari El, she studied voice and clarinet at a weekend music conservatory through Cal State Los Angeles, where she gave recitals, played in orchestras, and sang in choirs. In high school she was invited to sing live and record the Hanukkah Song (3rd edition) with Adam Sandler for the movie Eight Crazy Nights. Ask her about it sometime!

Cantor Elisa completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she majored in music and immersed herself in Hebrew and Italian language courses. Her language studies added to her existing Spanish fluency, leading her to become quadrilingual. Throughout college, she taught religious school at Congregation B’nai B’rith near the university, traveled to Israel for the first time on Taglit-Birthright, took on leadership roles at UCSB Hillel, and spent an academic quarter studying Italian language, art, opera, and wine abroad in Siena, Italy. Upon graduating from college in 2007, she moved to Jerusalem for her first of five years of graduate study with the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). In Jerusalem, she took courses in Jewish liturgy, Judaica, voice, and intensive Modern Hebrew at the Conservative Yeshiva and Ulpan Beit Ha’Am. In Jerusalem, she studied voice privately and also took part in the collaborative Women’s Project with Hebrew Union College, which gave her the unique opportunity to study Persian women’s music with a master vocalist in the field. Throughout her year abroad, she served as a Shabbat Scholar, leading services and learning sessions for Taglit-Birthright groups.

In 2008, Cantor Elisa moved to New York City where she continued her studies at the main campus of JTS and added on a second master’s degree in Jewish Education, through the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. Her time at the seminary afforded her the unique opportunity to work closely with some of the greatest cantors in the field, including Hazzan Jacob Mendelson, Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi, Hazzan Faith Steinsnyder, and Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn. She was also greatly influenced by her many student pulpits and internships throughout the country. Having served as Cantorial Intern at Park Avenue Synagogue, the largest Conservative community in New York City and the flagship of Jewish liturgical music in North America, Cantor Elisa was fortunate to have learned from some of the world’s most notable Jewish leaders of our time, including Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Cantor Azi Schwartz, and Cantor Nancy Abramson (the first female president of the Cantors Assembly and dean of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School). Additionally, over the years, she served as Cantorial Intern for the innovative and forward-thinking Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles, Spiritual Leader (Kol Bo) for High Holy Days at the Cedar Crest retirement community in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, and Rosh Tefillah (Head of Prayer) at Camp Ramah in New England.

While living in New York City, she taught religious school and confirmation classes at Congregation Kol Ami (White Plains), B’nei Jeshurun (NYC), and the East End Temple (NYC). Cantor Elisa also served as Education Intern at Sutton Place Synagogue (NYC), where she worked closely with the teaching staff and Director of Education to hone her leadership and administrative skills. These hands-on pulpits, internships, and teaching opportunities helped to pave the way for a meaningful career.

In May of 2012, Cantor Elisa was ordained as Cantor and graduated with dual master’s degrees in Sacred Music and Jewish Education, as well as Certificate of Hazzan. Upon graduation, Cantor Elisa moved to Wilmington, Delaware where she joyfully served as full-time Cantor and Director of Education at Congregation Beth Shalom for nine years. During her time in Delaware, she was responsible for officiating lifecycle events and prayer services, creating and implementing musical programming, conducting the choir, leading adult and youth education, hiring education staff, and running the religious school and B’nai Mitzvah program. She also served as a member of DERECH: Delaware Rabbis and Cantors and served on the boards of the local Jewish Day School, Albert Einstein Academy, and Jewish senior living community, Kutz Home. Cantor Elisa is an active member of the Cantors Assembly, American Conference of Cantors, the Jewish Educators Assembly, and the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, and she has served on the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly. She feels incredibly blessed to have met her husband, Daniel, at Beth Shalom in Wilmington, and together they have two beautiful children, Eden (3-year-old boy) and Moana (1-year-old girl), and two small terrier rescues, Harry and (Woof-gang Paw-madeus) Mozart. Cantor Elisa and Daniel enjoy singing Jewish music together and passing this love onto their children. Outside of the synagogue, one of Cantor Elisa’s greatest passions is traveling, as she believes travel is one of the greatest ways to learn. She has traveled extensively through Europe, the Caribbean, French Polynesia, North America, and parts of Asia and North Africa. Cantor Elisa also enjoys cooking (she and her identical twin sister started a cooking blog called Chef Times Two, www.cheftimestwo.com) and relishing time with her family.

The Cohns recently moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth community to be closer to family. Being in Texas is a dream come true for Cantor Elisa, as she is living near her twin sister and best friend, Cantor Shoshana Abrams Kaikov, her parents, mother-in-law, and cousins. She feels incredibly blessed to be on this cantorial journey and can’t wait to meet you!

Mon, September 26 2022 1 Tishrei 5783