The Richard W. Briskin Cantor-in-Residence Award was established at Temple Beth El in 1998 by Henra Briskin in memory of her husband Richard, who had a passion for both singing and Jewish liturgical mucis. The award is presented annually to an outstanding student of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. The Briskin program is the only one of its kind in North America to provide talented cantorial students the opportunity to participate in a weekend of congregational activities under the leadership of Hazzan Martin Leubitz
2017 Recipient: Jen Rolnick
Jen studied classical voice and piano at the University of Miami. As a fifth-year cantorial student, she is currently pursuing Masters degrees in both Sacred Music and Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. For the last four years, Jen has served as Hazzan for the High Holidays at Congregation Shaar HaShalom in Houston, Texas. For the last two years she has been the student cantor of Congregation Beth El in New London, Connecticut. Jen is delighted to serve this year as cantorial intern at Congregation Anshe Chesed in New York City. In these roles she has conducted weekly Shabbat services and has taught children their Hebrew skills and has led youth choirs, in addition to conducting weekly Shabbat services. Known for her strong, versatile style of singing, Jen has performed in operas, musical theater, in adult choirs, and in solo work. One recent professional highlight was a performance with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at Masada.
2015 Recipient: Gil Ezring
Ezring received his Bachelor of Music from Appalachian State University. He has taught music in public schools in Charlotte, NC as well as Hebrew and Judaica in various religious schools. He was one of the founding members of Rock HaRuach (now The Ruach), a band at Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC where, with his father (the Senior Rabbi) created the Rock HaShanah and Rock HaShabbat services at which the band leads the congregation. He was the songleader/music teacher as part of the original staff at Camp Zeke in Lakewood, PA and has also worked as the Mashgiach and B’nei Mitzvah tutor at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, GA. During his first year in Cantorial school, Gil ran the Yigdal Service, a Shabbat service for families with children in pre-k – 2nd grade, at Congregation Ansche Chesed in Manhattan. He has been the Cantor for the Young Professional High Holiday Services at Sutton Place Synagogue, also in Manhattan, for the past two years. Gil is a Jewish singer/songwriter and he and his sister make up a Jewish musical Duo, AGEz, specializing in Jewish Rock/Pop/Country music.