2017-05-10 / Home

Beth El’s Alisa Pomerantz-Boro

Milestone events set for 2 area cantors:
By DAVID PORTNOE Voice Editor

When Cong. Beth El Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz Boro is installed as president of the Conservative movement’s International Cantors Assembly on May 24, the event will bring together so many of the aspects of her life that Hazzan Pomerantz- Boro holds dear. She will be installed in conjunction with the 7 p.m. “Every Voice Gala Concert” at Beth El in Voorhees in the presence of her colleagues (over 200 cantors are expected), her synagogue family at Beth El, and her own family.

The current senior vice president and president-elect of the Cantors Assembly, Pomerantz-Boro is chairing the five-day 70th International Assembly being held at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Resort in Galloway. The conference at the Seaview will include a Folk Festival, a “Leonard Bernstein at 100: A Jewish Musical Celebration of the Bernstein Centennial” on Sunday, May 21 at 8:30 p.m., and a “Celebrating Jerusalem” Concert on Tuesday, May 23 at 8 p.m. The Jerusalem Concert is being held on Yom Yerushalayim, 50 years after the reunification of the city and the day when Jews were once again free to pray at the Western Wall. Tickets for each concert are $25 at the door.

Then, on May 24, Hazzan Pomerantz Boro’s cantorial colleagues will travel from the shore to Beth El to not only see her installed, but to sing at her sold-out installation concert.

“I am overwhelmed and excited,” said Pomerantz-Boro of the upcoming concert and her installation as leader of the 650-member Cantors Assembly. When she is installed, she will become only the second woman to head the Cantors Assembly. The Conservative movement started investing women cantors in 1987, the year she entered the Jewish Theological Seminary’s cantorial program. When she graduated in 1991, she was in the first cohort of women (14 in all) to be admitted into the Cantors Assembly.

“It shouldn’t matter whether you are male or female, what your sexual orientation is, what the color of your skin is—that is the theme of the concert and my presidency—‘Every Voice,’” said Pomerantz-Boro.

In her role as international president, Pomerantz-Boro will represent her colleagues at major events and forge relationships with other arms of the Conservative movement (Rabbi Philip Scheim, the president of the Rabbinical Assembly is travelling from Toronto to attend). “When we work together, we can achieve more,” she said.

Pomerantz-Boro will also focus her two-year term on spreading the word about what it means to be a cantor and what cantors do for individuals and for synagogues as a whole. She said the biggest challenge is budgetary. “When a synagogue is shrinking and they can only afford one clergy, they will employ a rabbi,” she said. Part of her role will be educating people about what cantors do.

The 13-year Hazzan at Beth El, Pomerantz-Boro wanted her congregation to be part of her installation. Her role at Beth El includes leading services, the b’nai mitzvah program, the choir, being present at life cycle events, a lot of teaching and counseling, and many other aspects of synagogue life. She engages with every age group and arm of the synagogue. She has shared both the happy and sad times in congregants’ lives and they have done the same for her. Both her children became b’nai mitzvah at Beth El.

Synagogue President David Backal said that Beth El is so fortunate Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro has shared her beautiful voice with them for 13 years. “What an incredible and well-deserved honor to someone who has been so caring, compassionate and devoted to the children and families of Cong. Beth El. We are extremely proud of her great honor, becoming the president of the International Cantors Assembly. We are so grateful for all that our Hazzan has done and continues to do for our shul and the greater community.” He added that she continues to bring guidance, dignity, creativity and healing through her love of Jewish music and Jewish life. “We are so blessed to call her our friend and Hazzan. Mazal Tov!”

Beth El Rabbi Aaron Krupnick said that the unique gift of Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro’s voice is its ability to help individual congregants find their own. “She can take an ordinary melody in an ordinary moment and make both transcendent, moving the congregation in ways few could anticipate until they have experienced it for themselves. But more than just a beautiful voice, she is a beautiful person on the inside and anyone who has sought her wise counsel knows what a gift she is to our congregation.”

The May 24 installation and concert will also be a special moment for Hazzan Pomerantz- Boro and her immediate family. She is the granddaughter of a cantor and the daughter of a rabbi. Her father, Rabbi Moshe Pomerantz, and her mother, Jewish educator and author Kay Kantor Pomerantz, will be in attendance, as will her husband, Stephen Boro, and children, Rebecca, 21, and Joshua, 15.

At the concert, there will be a special appearance by “Joyful Noise,” an adult special needs choir. In addition, part of the proceeds from the concert will benefit Camp Ramah’s Tikvah Program for Special Needs, a concern close to Pomerantz- Boro’s heart, as her daughter is a special needs person.

For Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro, it is all about relationships—colleagues, congregants, and family— and it will all come together on May 24, when she is installed amidst a musical celebration. 

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