Anna Zhar joins Temple Beth Sholom as its new cantor on August 1 with her first service on August 3. Cantor Anna, who lives in Congers, comes to the New City temple from Temple Beth Jacob in Newburgh. The announcement of Cantor Anna’s hiring comes on the heels of who took over as the congregation’s primary spiritual leader at the beginning of July.
After being ordained at Hebrew Union College in 2007, she served at Temple B’nai Israel in Southbury, CT for two years and then at Temple Beth Jacob for six years. Since becoming a cantor Zhar has organized various community concerts, and joint performances of synagogues, colleges and universities.
Before she officially started with the synagogue, Cantor Anna began connecting with the Temple Beth Sholom congregation. She helped the choir prepare for Cantor Sergei Schwartz's farewell service and served as cantor for Rabbi Leiken's first service on July 6.
Cantor Anna grew up in the former USSR where she attended music school at the age of five. Her first choral experience was at 10 years old. Cantor Anna went on to earn a degree in Choral Conducting and Music Education from the Tchaikovsky Music Academy in Moscow.
In 1991, she immigrated with her family to Israel in 1991, where she graduated with honors from the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. Cantor Anna worked with many choirs in Israel, including the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir, Jerusalem Chamber Choir, and Jerusalem “Cantus” and “Oratorio” choirs.
While in Israel, she learned about the Reform Jewish Movement and decided that becoming a cantor would enable her to combine her love of music with her passion for Judaism. She and her husband Gary moved to the United States and now have three children, Daniel, 14, Avital, 10 and Roni, three years old. Cantor Anna, who is 40 years old, also has a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.
Her predecessor at Temple Beth Sholom was Cantor Sergei Schwartz, who had served as religious leader for 12 years. He left June 30 after accepting an offer from a synagogue in Roslyn, NY.