Welcome to Temple Israel
It is with great joy and excitement that we announce the selection of Cantor Joanna M. Alexander to be the next Cantor of Temple Israel, beginning July 1, 2019! She will succeed Cantor Wendy Shermet, who will retire in May after serving our congregation with grace and distinction since 2001.
After a thorough interview process that included two intensive days in Omaha getting to know congregants, teaching our elementary and high-school students, meeting with our adult choir, and leading an inspiring service with our rabbis and musicians, Cantor Alexander was recommended unanimously by our Cantor Search Committee and invited by our Board of Trustees to join Temple Israel’s clergy team. Cantor Alexander will come to us from Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, New Jersey, where she has served since her ordination from Hebrew Union College’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in 2008.
Cantor Alexander is an experienced and talented cantor who is beloved by her congregants and colleagues alike for her warmth, her wisdom, and her sincerity. Both in her congregation and in the broader Reform movement, she has built a reputation as a dedicated and reliable clergy partner, a loving pastoral caregiver, and a skilled leader of innovation in ways that honor and affirm tradition. She enjoys teaching children to love Jewish music and brings experience and excitement to the work she will do with our new kids’ choir, Kol Chokolad. She is passionate about helping teens develop a Jewish ethical approach to navigating life’s challenges and is eager to build relationships with them as a teacher in our high school. As an active partner in interfaith work in New Jersey, she is inspired by the Tri-Faith Initiative and has creative ideas for how music can enhance this sacred work. Cantor Alexander will be an outstanding addition to our Temple Israel team and we know that she is the right cantor to lead us into the future. To read more about Cantor Alexander and listen to recordings of her singing some of our familiar prayers, visit her website at www.cantoralexander.org.
Raised as a member of KAM Isaiah Israel congregation in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Cantor Alexander blossomed as a Jewish musician under the influence of the legendary Jewish liturgical composer Max Janowski. She spent many years as a camper at OSRUI, the Reform Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin where numerous Temple Israel kids and our clergy also spend their summers, and she is excited to return to the Midwest. Cantor Alexander will move to Omaha this summer with her husband Jacob and their three children, Evelyn (8), Brianna (8), and Brian (4). We look forward to welcoming them warmly and enthusiastically to our Temple Israel family!
We are grateful to our Cantor Search Committee for their outstanding work in bringing Cantor Alexander to Temple Israel. Co-Chairs Traci Kugler and Marti Poulos led an excellent and dedicated team consisting of our members Brooklyn Armstrong, Tami Field, Tom Friedman, Scott Goodman, Andie Gordman, Joseph Pinson, Jeff Platt, Miles Remer, Sylvia Roffman, Leora Werner, Terry Zacharia, Rabbi Stoller, and Rabbi Berezin. We would not have found such an extraordinary cantor without their tireless efforts rooted in genuine love for our congregation.
Over the next five months, we will savor and celebrate the remaining time we have with Cantor Shermet, singing and praying with her, sharing our life cycle moments with her, and enjoying her wonderful friendship. We will honor Cantor Shermet as a congregation at several events during the weekend of April 26-28, so please mark your calendars and watch for details.
We have been so blessed by Cantor Shermet’s talent, presence, and love for 18 years, and we know we will be equally blessed by the beautiful music and kind soul of her very worthy successor, Cantor Joanna Alexander. We give our thanks to God for the honor and privilege of being part of this holy community.
Our Mission: We will engage our community with a modern spiritual, educational and social Jewish experience that uplifts our lives.
Our Vision: To be an inclusive, connected and expanding Reform Jewish community.
Our Goals: Torah, Tzedakah, Tikun Olam
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