ACC Volunteer of the Month is Cantor Nancy Kassel

Cantor Nancy Kassel is a 1991 graduate of HUC-SSM. She is the Cantor at Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, Georgia.

In what capacity have you volunteered for the ACC?
Years ago I helped with the creation of the convention packets (bag, free goodies, etc.) and also with the T’filah Committee. Recently I’ve been on PAG, the ACC Placement Advisory Group that functions as a sounding board for the placement director. For the past two years I have worked on a committee created to commission new music for Shirei Mishkan HaNefesh.

What do you look forward to at ACC conventions?
I look forward to connecting with old colleagues, and meeting new ones. I try to stay on the pulse of the cantorate by learning what other people are doing. It could be musically or non-musically, depending on what the theme is that particular year.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to the cantorate now and into the future?
I have given this a lot of thought and always participate in ACC surveys. The biggest challenge is the survival of synagogue life in general and by extension, the cantorate. As we’ve seen, the cantorate needs to adapt in order to play a continued significant role with the survival of synagogue affiliation. There are a lot of external challenges. I see it all around me in the Atlanta area. These external forces change the way Jews see their Judaism, and the role of the synagogue in it.

Why did you become a Cantor? What influenced you to go into this profession?
I grew up in The Temple in Atlanta and used to fill in for members of the professional choir. For two years after college I was the synagogue’s third “cantorial soloist” (the first being Cantor David Margules). It wet my appetite for the real thing. It was very rewarding and a more meaningful way for me to use my musical gifts. As a result, I applied and was accepted into HUC’s School of Sacred Music.

What is something about you that you’d like to share with us that we might not know about you?
As a student in Hebrew Union College, like many students, I did my share of complaining. But now, looking back, I’m very grateful for my education, my teachers, the institution and my colleagues.