Cantor Ilana Plutzer
Cantor Ilana has been the Cantor at B’nai Israel since 2009. She brings with her a mixture of folk sing-along music and chazzanut; Jewish traditional chant. Her guitar playing and warm smile help to welcome all that come to services. Her love of liturgy and its relevance to modern day is apparent in her teaching service with our religious school.
Cantor Ilana received her Master’s Degree in Sacred Music and was invested in 2000 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion-Sacred School of Music in New York. During her years at HUC, she served as student cantor at congregations in Port Washington, NY, Havre de Grace, MD, Madison, CT and Syosset, NY. Her Master’s Thesis, “Refuat Hanefesh”, Healing of the Soul, was a study of music in nursing homes which led her to an internship with the Joint Chaplaincy Committee of MetroWest-National Association of Jewish Chaplains in NJ. She was the first cantor to participate in this program and it has since attracted other cantors.
Upon graduation, Cantor Ilana moved to Pasadena, CA where she worked at the Weizman Day School teaching kindergarten and first grade Hebrew as well as lead prayer through 8th grade.
In 2004, she returned to NY, to Syosset as Cantor at the North Shore Synagogue. She also was the religious school music teacher at Temple Beth El in Huntington, NY till 2017.
Cantor Ilana is a board-certified chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. She has worked as a chaplain with Catholic Health services in their hospitals and nursing homes as well as Catholic Home Care visiting patients all over long island following their hospital stays. In October 2017, Cantor Ilana became the first Jewish woman and first Cantor ever to work as Chaplain on Rikers Island.
Before entering HUC-JIR-SSM, Cantor Ilana attended the University of Rochester, where she earned a BA in Psychology and Theatre. She has worked in several Union of Reform Judaism summer camps including Eisner, Harlem, Newman and Kutz, the Jewish youth leadership camp in Warwick, NY, teaching music, cantillation, and Jewish education. She has also worked for many Jewish organizations including B’nai Brith Hillel, ARZA, UJA-Federation and the 92nd Street Y, as well as The ARC.
Cantor Ilana was born and raised in the Bronx and has lived in Queens, Manhattan and Pasadena, California.
She has two daughters Liora and Hannah, and lives in Smithtown, NY. She is a member of the American Conference of Cantors, Association of Professional Chaplains, American Correctional Chaplains Association, and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains.