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Digital Marketing Alum Bridges Faith and Career with Colorful Song

Zak Beanrroch's joyful spirit serves him well after hours as cantor of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. By day, he's a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs.

By Dave DeFusco

On Friday afternoons, Zak Benarroch, a 2021 graduate of the Katz School’s M.S. in Digital Marketing and Media, leaves the office early and his co-workers at Goldman Sachs barely notice. They know he’s heading to the Fifth Avenue Synagogue on the Upper East Side to prep for services.

At sundown, he’s a cantor who’ll belt out in his high tenor a tune to suit an Orthodox Jewish holiday or a chorus from a Broadway musical, such as the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat, which is based on the character of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.

“As a cantor you are responsible for leading a congregation and being at the forefront of their religious experience, which comes with immense responsibility," he said. "I don't see it as performance, but rather an opportunity to lift up and inspire a community.”

By day, Benarroch (pronounced Ben-Ah-Rosh) is a reserved senior analyst on the regulatory relations team within the internal audit division at Goldman Sachs. He said his Katz School education has made him an astute technical analyst.

“Leveraging the extensive research and technical skills I learned in the Katz School program has allowed me to adjust to life at Goldman Sachs, where the demands are always high,” he said.

Benarroch was recruited by Fifth Avenue Synagogue to replace Cantor Joseph Malovany, who led the congregation for some 50 years and is chair of Advanced Studies in Jewish Liturgical Music at Yeshiva University’s Belz School of Jewish Music. Since taking over as cantor, Benarroch has injected a youthful spirit to the service, and the congregation has embraced it.

“Zak’s a great example of using what he learned from the Katz School in the faith and business communities,” said Joseph Panzarella, program director of the M.S. in Digital Marketing and Media. “Our curriculum focuses on market research and consumer decision-making, providing our students the macro and micro skills to adapt their knowledge to any situation.”

After graduating from high school in London, Benarroch went to Jerusalem to immerse himself in Judaic studies at a school overlooking the Western Wall. He commuted twice a week for two years to Tel Aviv to train as a cantor. In 2017, he gained entry to YU through the S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program, an educational partnership between YU and more than 41 yeshivot and seminaries in Israel. He went on to complete a bachelor's degree in business administration and management, with a minor in marketing, at the Sy Syms School of Business before starting his master's program at the Katz School.

When he arrived in New York, he purposely looked for an apartment with a big living area so that he could host soirees for people he’d meet in his explorations throughout the city. On Friday nights, he typically has 15 guests over for a Shabbat dinner for young professionals in the area and from his congregation. He leads the blessings over a candle, wine and challah. It’s a moment of solidarity for his friends sitting around the table and an opportunity to show their pride in being Jewish and their belief in the spirit of Judaism.

Shabbat commemorates the day that God rested from creating the world. For Benarroch, it's a natural way to unplug, to step away briefly from his professional commitments at Goldman Sachs and his other community on Fifth Avenue that he binds together with song.