ACC News

ACC Names Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas as Director of Placement

January 27, 2023

After a thoughtful search process, Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas has been named the American Conference of Cantors’ Director of Placement, succeeding Cantor Kay Greenwald who will be retiring this July.

Cantor Greenwald announced her retirement to the Officers and Executive Board of the ACC last year. Cantor Seth Warner, ACC president, created and charged the Director of Placement Search Committee to evaluate and update the position description and begin the process to find our newest member of our senior staff. Cantor Warner appointed Cantor David Frommer to chair the committee. Members of the committee included Cantor Jennifer Frost, Cantor Shani Cohen, Julie Raskin, and Rabbi Kim Geringer. Cantor Joshua Breitzer and Rachel Roth also served ex-officio to the committee.

The Search committee was particularly impressed with Cantor Thomas’ entrepreneurial nature and  belief that cantors “can do anything.” Her particular experience with relational and engagement
work in her pulpit will be an asset to her work as the director of placement. Through this work, she learned that she has a knack for helping people “find their people,” sewing together small  communities within a large synagogue and helping a big place to feel intimate and warm. She learned to be more inquisitive about human nature, motivation, and self-interest. This work taught her how to listen differently to congregants’ desires for community, relationships, and togetherness and has infused her cantorate. These skills will translate well along with her strong interpersonal and pastoral skills, her ability to actively listen, her out of the box thinking, and her compassion to work closely with ACC members and congregations in placement. She said, “When cantors and
congregations are in the right relationship, as I have been with mine, the Jewish people will be enriched.”

Cantor Thomas was ordained in 2011 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. She has served Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC since ordination. While at HUC-JIR, Mary was awarded academic prizes in Jewish religious thought, composition, creative worship leadership, and for significant contributions to the school community. She served as Cantorial Intern at Union Temple of Brooklyn and Temple Israel of New Rochelle. Mary completed her Cantorial Thesis, “Inward, Outward, and Upward: The Postmodern Shaliach Tzibbur,” in which she applies the theology of Rabbi Eugene Borowitz to prayer leadership. She completed her undergraduate work in History and Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, graduating with honors. Mary is spouse to Matthew and mother to Johannah and Ezra.

Cantor Thomas will vacate her ACC Vice President seat and begin working with Cantor Greenwald beginning this spring so that a seamless transition can take place. We will honor Cantor Greenwald for her service and dedication to this position and welcome Cantor Thomas in person at our ACC-GTM Convention June 26-28, 2023 in San Diego.


Cantor Seth Warner