Ep. 7: Sound of Your Heritage: Music’s Role in Jewish Culture & Celebrations (Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz-Boro)


September 10, 2019

Chag Sameach (Happy Holidays)! Music has been a part of Jewish life since ancient biblical times, and remains integral to the Jewish religious and cultural experiences. Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro tells us about the Jewish High Holidays (personal preparation is taking place now) and the role Jewish music plays in Jewish culture and holidays/celebrations. Some of America’s greatest composers and songwriters are Jewish (including Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Leonard Cohen [Canadian-American], Carole King, and Bob Dylan), and we discuss the effect of their heritage on their music.


Alisa Pomerantz-Boro is a Hazzan, the Hebrew word for Cantor.  A Cantor or Hazzan is a Jewish musician trained in both vocal arts AND theology, who leads a congregation in songful prayer.  Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro grew up in a rabbinic home, instilled with a love of Judaism and music.  From an early age, she knew she would continue the long family line of rabbis, cantors and educators.  Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro earned her degree in Sacred Jewish Music from the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She also holds a degree in Near Eastern Studies and Music from the University of Washington.

Hazzan Alisa serves as the Cantor of the Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, NJ.  She’s also served in synagogues in New York City and San Diego. Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro was among the first 14 women to be inducted into the Cantors Assembly (in 1991) and is its immediate International Past President.


Modeh Ani is a prayer of gratitude said FIRST thing in the morning before even getting out of bed! Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro provided this printable Modeh Ani prayer card for listeners interested in implementing this prayer. Search YouTube to hear the different melodies to which this prayer can be sung. You can also make up your own melody, speak the words (without music), or use the words as a mantra or meditation. In its simplest form: Simply say the Hebrew words Modeh Ani (“I am grateful”).


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Hazzan Pomerantz-Boro tells the background of her composition of the song, Modim (we thank you, God, for all of the blessings and all of the miracles). Hazzan Alisa wrote this song in honor of her miraculous daughter, Rebecca, who suffered a traumatic brain injury at 30 weeks gestation. Modim is also the title of Hazzan Alisa’s first solo CD.

NEW Segment: Listener Improv

I would like to feature some of YOU on the show by sharing YOUR Improv ideas! Each episode includes an Improv from our guest – a Try-This-At-Home, experiment, or hack that will enhance listeners’ lives with music. Future episodes will also include a Listener Improv, submitted by one of you.  Send me your Improv suggestions:

I look forward to hearing YOUR suggestions and including one in next week’s episode.  Be sure to include your name and where you’re from!

This Week’s Listener Improv…

…comes from Lynn from Lindstrom, Minnesota: Lynn submitted her Improv as a comment on the website: “Every time I am getting ready for the day I crank Beyonce. She makes you feel so empowered as a person and woman and gets me dancing. Helps to start my day out right.” Love that — it’s like an audio version of the Power Pose – thank you, Lynn!

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