Celebrating 36 Years as Pro Bono Cantor

Jonathan Strum

Jonathan Strum (pictured) has lent his voice to the singing of God’s praise as Georgetown University’s pro bono Jewish High Holiday Cantor. 

“The beauty and power of Hazzan Strum’s dulcet tones are matched only by his warmth, wisdom and loving commitment to the Georgetown High Holy Day community,” said Rabbi Rachel Gartner, director for Jewish Life. “In the 9 years, I have been leading with Hazzan Strum he was at first a guide, then support and now a dear friend. What a blessing it is to share the pulpit with him,” she added. 

Strum’s tenure at the Georgetown University Jewish High Holiday services began in 1984 while obtaining a Master’s in International Law at Georgetown University Law Center.  He has been a Georgetown University High Holiday fixture ever since. 

“This year marks his 36th at Georgetown, and as we say: 36 is twice 18 which for us signifies ‘double chai,’ or double life,” added Rabbi Gartner. “In honor of 36 years of gracing the bima and our lives with his presence, we pray Hazzan Strum will be blessed with the full force of double chai – may his joy, delight, and wellbeing (more than) double this year and for many years to come. Our appreciation and gratitude run deep.” 

The University is grateful not only for Strum’s devotion to Georgetown’s Jewish community but also for his efforts in promoting interfaith dialogue. A Jewish Cantor at a Jesuit University, Strum is an expert in Islamic Finance who sat on the board of a Buddhist University in Los Angeles.  

Strum’s impact has been immense– it is estimated that nearly 25,000 people have attended the Holidays since his time as cantor began. Strum said that it’s not uncommon for people to recognize him in public as the Jewish cantor for Georgetown.

Though his legal work has taken him to every continent except Antarctica, Jonathan reserves a special place in his heart for the Jewish community at 37th and O.

“It has been a privilege to serve both the Georgetown University community and the Jewish community at large in providing a place where all are welcome, no tickets required and where through voluntary contributions we have been able to raise money for the vibrant Jewish Students Association at Georgetown,” Strum said.  

As he has for the past three decades, Strum served as cantor at this year’s Rosh Hashanah services and will be singing at Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei Services. Celebrations take place in Gaston Hall. Check the Jewish Life website or download the service schedule here.