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Cantor Josh Breitzer (he/him) has joyfully served Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim since receiving ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011. He leads the community through prayer and song, teaches chanting and ritual skills to people of all ages, and helps turn special moments into sacred occasions. After more than a decade of his innovative cantorial stewardship, CBE has become a beacon of dynamic, pluralistic ritual activity, attracting international attention and growing to over 1000 member units.
Named by The Forward in its “Soundtrack of Our Spirit” series as one of the best new Jewish music voices, Cantor Breitzer has sung at concert halls and synagogues across the country. He appears throughout the PBS documentary “The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale” and helped create the New York Festival of Song’s acclaimed cabaret “A Goyishe Christmas to You” in which he has performed every year since 2010. Among his most influential mentors were Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner, Cantor Lawrence Avery, and Dr. Jack Gottlieb, whose artistic legacy Cantor Breitzer continues to preserve and promote.
Cantor Breitzer proudly hails from mid-Michigan and spent formative summers at Interlochen Arts Camp, later earning voice degrees from the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory. Committed to inspiring the next generation of Jewish music makers, he was the founding conductor of HaZamir Brooklyn, a chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, and has been on faculty at multiple URJ summer camps. He has presented classes at the North American Jewish Choral Festival, the Academy for Jewish Religion, and at the Abraham Geiger Kolleg in Potsdam, Germany.
As a dedicated instructor at the HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Cantor Breitzer advises and coaches students and teaches courses on integrative repertoire for Shabbat and Yom Kippur. An alumnus of the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, he strives to model in all his work how one might weave traditional and contemporary liturgical settings into a holistic, compelling prayer experience. His former cantorial interns have gone on to serve prominent communities throughout the progressive Jewish world.
Having volunteered for the American Conference of Cantors in several capacities since his own HUC student years, Cantor Breitzer was elected to the ACC board in 2015 and to the officer team in 2016. From 2016-2019 he was Vice President for Professional Development, External Policy and Placement, and from 2019-2022 he was Vice President for Member Relations and External Partnerships. In 2022, he was installed as Vice President for Internal Policy and Administration.
Together with his wife Donna and their children Jonah and Gideon, Cantor Breitzer makes a home in Park Slope. He relishes the city’s multitude of mass transit systems, doing the New York Times Sunday Crossword, and crafting puns of varying quality for his extremely tolerant family and friends.