Clergy

Alexander Davis, Rabbi

Alexander Davis is senior rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, MN where he previously served as an associate rabbi. He received his B.A. in German Studies from Grinnell College and in 1999 graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary with rabbinic ordination and an M.A. in Jewish Education. Since moving to the Twin Cities, Rabbi Davis has served on a variety of local boards and has participated in national conferences on Judaism and spirituality and synagogue leadership. He is passionate about learning and teaching Torah and lives to share the beauty, wisdom and meaning of Jewish living with others. In addition, he loves cooking, travel and the arts. Rabbi Davis grew up in Portland, Oregon and lived in Jerusalem and New York City before moving with his wife, Esther, to the Twin Cities. They are blessed with four boys, Yonah, Yaakov, Micah and Amichai.

952.873.7314 / adavis@bethelsynagogue.org


Ben Tisser, Cantor; Audrey Abrams & Neil Newman Cantorial Chair

Ben Tisser is Senior Cantor of Beth El Synagogue. Prior to his arrival in Minneapolis he served congregations in Los Angeles, New York, Boca Raton, and Chicago. He began his cantorial training at age six under Cantor Herschel Fox (Valley Beth Shalom, Los Angeles), serving as Fox’s synagogue organist from age 12, and continuing to study with such cantorial luminaries as Alberto Mizrahi, Jacob Mendelson, Robert Kieval, and Daniel Gildar z”l. He was ordained by JTS in 2013. A noted composer and arranger, his choral arrangements are sung in synagogues around North America. An active performer, he has performed at the Palau de la Musica Catalan in Barcelona, Jazz@Lincoln Center in New York, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, the Rogers Centre in Toronto, and in synagogues throughout North America, Europe, and Israel. He is privileged to have served as artist-in-residence for congregations in France and Germany. Hazzan Tisser has served on the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly, the largest body of Hazzanim in the world, and was President of its Midwest Region from 2016-2021. He released his first album of original music, “Hegyon Libi”, in 2021; it is available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Youtube. When he’s not on the bimah, Cantor Tisser enjoys cooking, traveling, boating, and enjoying a glass of wine. Standing out among his greatest accomplishments are his two children, Talia and Ethan. He and his wife Robyn, a high school teacher, were married in 2020 and are the proud fur-parents of Zoey Doey Picklehead and L.C. S’mores.

952.873.7313 / btisser@bethelsynagogue.org


Audrey Abrams, Cantor Emerita

Cantor Abrams, originally from Rochester, New York, has a B.M. in Music Therapy from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Music Education and Therapy from the University of Minnesota. She received her cantorial certification from Hebrew Union College in 2001. Her work with Beth El began in 1990 when she became Hazzan Sheini for the High Holy Days. At the time she was living in Connecticut with her husband, David, and flew in each year for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In 1995, she and David, with their two young daughters, Rachel and Sally, moved back to Minneapolis where she took on the job as program director at Beth El. After certification, Cantor Abrams assumed the title of Associate Cantor until Cantor Newman’s retirement in 2007. Cantor Abrams is very involved in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and believes strongly in contemplative practices elevating ones connections to their Judaism. In her spare time, Cantor Abrams enjoys walks around the lakes, bike rides with David, doing art projects and art classes, movies, traveling and the TWINS!

952.873.7315 / aabrams@bethelsynagogue.org


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Neil Newman, Cantor Emeritus

Cantor Newman joined the Beth El staff in 1980 after serving congregations in Philadelphia and Syracuse. In addition to his Bachelor of Sacred Music and Cantorial Investiture from the School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds an M.A. in Religious Education and a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Syracuse University.  He is advisor to the Beth El Music and Arts (BEMA) and the Lihyot B’kesher (College-Age Keep-In-Touch) committees. He served for eight years as chairman of the American Conference of Cantors Certification Committee, mentoring candidates through studies leading to cantorial certification. Cantor Newman is married to Saranee. They have five children and four grandchildren.

952.873.7315 / nnewman@bethelsynagogue.org


Kassel E. Abelson, Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Abelson first came to Beth El in 1948, leaving in 1951 for the military and returning in 1957 as assistant rabbi to Rabbi David Aronson, Beth El’s first rabbi. He has been a devoted teacher and leader stepping down as Beth El Senior Rabbi in 1992 to become active in setting national Judaic policy. During his forty plus years as Beth El’s Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Abelson created United Synagogue Youth and an egalitarian relationship for both men and women in the study and reading of the Torah. He is also responsible for a strong TaRBuT (B’nai mitzvah training) Program and Rimonim-a post-B’nai Mitzvah class, in which teens teach future B’nai Mitzvah candidates.

952.873.7313 / aabelson@bethelsynagogue.org