BACA (Bay Area Cantorial Association) is organizing a concert in support of Israel to be at Cong. Schaarai Zedek on Tuesday., November 28th at 7 PM.
BAY AREA CANTORS & CANTORIAL SOLOISTS IN SPECIAL CONCERT
IN SHIREI ARTZEINU — SONGS OF OUR LAND: A CONCERT FOR ISRAEL
Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 7 PM at Congregation Schaarai Zedek of Tampa
(Tampa) Fourteen cantors and cantorial soloists of the Bay Area Cantorial Association (BACA) will
present a special concert benefitting the Israel Emergency Fund of the Jewish Federations of North
America, SHIREI ARTZEINU — SONGS OF OUR LAND: A CONCERT FOR ISRAEL on Tuesday,
November 28, 2023 at 7 PM at Congregation Schaarai Zedek, 3303 W. Swann Ave., Tampa. For
information, please call Schaarai Zedek at (813) 876-2377. Tickets are available at the door for a
suggested donation of $36 each. All donations of any amount will be gratefully accepted and no one
will be turned away.
Founded in 2002 by members of the Tampa Bay cantorial community and now in its 21st year, BACA
is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising scholarship monies for Reform and
Conservative sacred music study. BACA’s 17 past annual concerts in the Tampa Bay,
Bradenton/Sarasota, and Ocala regions have celebrated Jewish life with musical solos and ensembles
covering a global range of writers, eras, styles, languages, genres and cultures. BACA’s most recent
March 2020 concert in Sarasota took place only one week before the pandemic shutdown. The
Tampa concert scheduled to follow was unable to proceed.
This Concert For Israel has been swiftly planned by the organization to include as many of our West
Central Florida region’s cantors and cantorial soloists as available as a means to benefit emergency
medical and refugee services for Israel after the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on October 7th. All
concert proceeds will be donated to the Israel Emergency Fund of the Jewish Federations of North
America, and BACA has already received a $2,500 donation toward the proceeds in advance of the
Participants in the November 28th concert include Laura Berkson, Deborrah Cannizzaro, Tanya
Greenblatt, Glenn Groper, Joy Katzen-Guthrie, Andres Kornworcel, Michelle McNicholas, Neil
Newman, Allison Rosoff, Jodi Sered-Lever, Murray Simon, Beth Schlossberg, Marci Vitkus, Roger
Weisberg, as well as accompanists Robert Jarosh, Toby Simon, and Tara Swartzbaugh. The concert
will be comprised of songs by Israel composers or about Israel.
BACA membership includes cantors and cantorial soloists based in the Tampa Bay
Bradenton/Sarasota and Central Florida region. Current officers are Joy Katzen-Guthrie (President),
Deborrah Cannizzaro (Secretary) and Riselle Bain (Treasurer). BACA will resume its annual concerts
in early spring 2024 at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor. The date, theme, and participants in
that concert will be announced, with proceeds to benefit scholarships for cantorial students of Reform
and Conservative Sacred Music Study.
To date, BACA has raised more than $71,000 toward cantorial scholarships for students of the H. L.
Miller Cantorial School of JTS (the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary of Judaism) and the
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion
(reform, both in New York. Additionally, BACA twice has provided significant donations to new
publications of liturgical Jewish sheet music as a means of supporting Jewish music and further
serving cantorial students, professional cantors and cantorial soloists, including a gift of $5,000 to
Transcontinental Music Publications (a division of the American Conference of Cantors) as a sponsor
for the Mikraei Kodesh compilation sacred music for Jewish lifecycle events.
In 2018, BACA made a significant movement forward toward its goal of developing named
scholarship funds at both Hebrew Union College (reform) and the Jewish Theological Seminary
(conservative) through a $10,000 gift to the Cantors Assembly establishing the Bay Area Cantorial
Association Scholarship Fund in support of cantorial student scholarships at the Jewish Theological
Seminary. Scholarships are awarded annually based on financial need or outstanding achievement in
studies. While BACA has provided gifts toward scholarships to both JTS and HUC over the last
decade and a half of its existence, this gift established a named fund that distributes annual
scholarships. Cantor Nancy Abramson, Director of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish
Theological Seminary, and Hazzan Stephen Stein, Executive Vice-President of the Cantors Assembly,
have remarked that this fund is a tremendous boost to students as well as an acknowledgement of the
work and the commitment of JTS. In Abramson’s words, “This is literally music to my ears!” In Stein’s
words, “This is a most impressive accomplishment for an association that has only been in existence
for 15 years.”
BACA is now working toward establishing its own scholarship fund for local and Florida-based
cantorial music study students and potential applicants. Toward that goal, BACA will be seeking
donors for this fund whom it will acknowledge in future concerts and in its concert programs.