Shabbat With Our New Cantor, Vera Broekhuysen

July 8, 2023 Sudbury Free
Jewish synagogue Judaic religion of Torah Scrolls with the pointer for reading the Torah a bar mitzvah ceremony
(Photo: photovs/iStock)

Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley welcomes Vera Broekhuysen, formerly of Temple Emanu-El in Haverhill, in her first Saturday Shabbat services as Beth El’s new cantor.

Broekhuysen, an award-winning social justice advocate and J Street advisory board member, will lead in partnership with popular and innovative Rabbi Joshua Breindel. She succeeds Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler, who served for more than 30 years at Beth El, which has a long history of being religiously and socially progressive while revering Jewish tradition. In a national climate of rising antisemitism, Beth El is more eager than ever to stand strong and proud together with their new cantor and celebrate Jewish identity.

Says Rabbi Breindel: “Cantor Vera’s wisdom, compassion and genuine love for Jewish music, spirituality, and service are profound gifts that she freely shares. Her ability to bring people together in song honors Beth El’s past and will keep us joyous and vibrant through the years to come.”

Broekhuysen is equally excited about her new professional home. “Beth El thrills to song and to social justice — these are my own two governing Jewish passions, and it is a deep blessing to begin a job centered around them in a community with such a rich history of engaged, creative ritual and study.” She is an articulate spokesperson for the Jewish community on social justice and human rights issues, and is available for consultation with the public and the press.

In her previous congregation, Broekhuysen led services, created musical programming, and directed the community’s choir. She was particularly known for her connection with families and young children. In addition, she headed up Torah study and b’nai mitzvah tutoring, and developed numerous multisession adult and family-centered programs. She is part of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, serves on the advisory board of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, and won the MICAH Award for her work in immigration justice with the Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network in 2018. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music history and theory from the University of Toronto, and a master’s degree in Jewish education from Hebrew College.

In honor of Cantor Broekhuysen’s appointment, Congregation Beth El is offering a year’s free membership and free religious school tuition for newly joined families with children, followed by a year of half-price membership and tuition, as a warm welcome gesture.

Congregation Beth El is a Reform synagogue in Sudbury, Mass., that practices joyful, participatory Judaism and embraces all ages, religious upbringings, cultures, races, and LGBTQIA+ identities. At Beth El, you are always “Jewish Enough.”

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Fact Sheet
Saturday, July 8, 2023, 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Congregation Beth El
105 Hudson Rd
Sudbury, MA 01776

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