Cantor Lisa Shapanka Arbisser

Photo of Lisa Arbisser

Cantor Lisa Shapanka Arbisser brings a passion for Jewish music and a profound dedication to Jewish community life and learning to her role as cantor of the SAJ.

As a student at the School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Cantor Arbisser won various awards and honors, including the Rabbi Edwin N. Soslow Memorial Prize in Jewish History and the Cantor Israel Goldstein Prize for Excellence in Hazzanut. She served as a student cantor at Temple Sinai of Long Island in Lawrence, New York, and Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, Massachusetts. where she further developed the qualities that make her a friendly, engaging, and inspiring clerical presence.

In addition to nusach and traditional hazzanut, Cantor Arbisser loves and is proficient in a variety of synagogue, world, and American music, including Israeli, Chassidic, and American folk, jazz, and rock. Her thesis and senior recital at HUC-JIR were both entitled “Mizug: A Fusion of Jazz and Synagogue Music,” and explored how certain American Jewish musicians are contributing to the sacred and secular American Jewish musical milieu and Minhag America.

Cantor Arbisser has been fortunate to study with extraordinary teachers. Their influences have led her to compose synagogue music and Jewish music for the home, and she strives to pass on her teachers’ inspiration to her students, both children and adults, to help them find their own voices in prayer, study, and Jewish living.

As a child and young adult, Cantor Arbisser was an active participant at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, New Jersey, where she grew up. Her passions led her to major in Mathematics and minor in Vocal Jazz Performance at Carnegie Mellon University. As part of her undergraduate study, she also spent a college semester at the Technion: Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Upon graduation, Cantor Arbisser took a position in finance at a Wall Street firm. Living in New York City, she encountered a thriving Jewish community that she found meaningful and exciting, and she quickly became involved at Central Synagogue and Makor, as well as with the wider Jewish music community. She decided to change careers, feeling that being a cantor would allow her to fuse her love of Judaism and Jewish community life with her deep enthusiasm for music.

In addition to co-leading services with Rabbi Strassfeld, Cantor Arbisser teaches music in the after-school education program, Jewish Journey Project at the SAJ and runs the B'nei Mitzvah program. Together with her husband Micah and their two sons, she enjoys sharing the many Jewish holidays and Jewish life experiences with SAJ community.

Please contact Cantor Arbisser at 212-724-7247 or cantorarbisser@thesaj.org