I am sincerely honored as I look forward to the celebration of having served as your Hazzan for the past twenty years. It is certainly true that we can recall so many events, both personally and collectively that have helped to shape who we are. It has been twenty years of both celebrating with you, and unfortunately helping to support you in times of challenges and of loss. Through it all, we have become family, sharing life cycle events and observing holidays together.
Perhaps what strikes me the most is watching children, your children, as they grow and become young adults. From the time they are first presented with their own siddur until they become B’nai Mitzvah and then stand under the chuppa with their “B’shert” (intended) seems, as we say, like a blink. The relationships that I have been able to forge with our B’nai Mitzvah as they plan for their big day have meant so much. Sometimes, we do not talk about the study material, but instead discuss their day at school or their interests. As you, parents and grandparents, are fully aware, sometimes you never know what they will say next!
The role of Hazzan is, to be sure, an ever-expanding one. The duties encompass a wide range. Throughout congregational life, it is the Hazzan who has the rather daunting task of “Shaliach Tzibbur”, the representative of the congregation in prayer to God. Perhaps one of the most poignant moments for me is on Kol Nidre night when we stand together as one. The chanting of Hineni is another. I always make it a point to improvise that prayer…no set music…no compositions. In that way I am able to craft it in the moment and infuse myself with its powerful text.
Another critically important responsibility is the pastoral one. When I visit patients in the hospital I am sometimes delighted when, instead, the person cheers me up! I hope that my visitation serves to maintain that person’s connection to our congregational life and of course, strengthen the relationship that they have with me.
The Hazzan attempts to use music and specifically his/her voice to interpret text and also to add expression to a service or event. I am very proud of our musical history. For many years, we held concerts celebrating Hazzanut, by inviting well-known colleagues of mine to join me in what always proved to be a memorable evening of Jewish music.
I wish to acknowledge and thank my professional colleagues who continue to work with me as a team. Rabbi Bitran and I share as colleagues and new friends. Kudos to Debbie Zeger, Samara Sofian and Randi Fox Tabb for all they do for all of us! Our officers, Dan Glowinsky, Caroline Korn, Amy Libenson, Lisa Silverstein, Marc Hass and Seth Charatz are tireless in leading our congregation. Our “supporting cast”, Anna Eckert, Bonnie Harris, Carol Konuksever, Michelle Caron, Vee Nelson, Jessie Atkin and Joe Samluk make it all run smoothly…Thank you!! We share a vision of making Temple Beth El a source of strength and inspiration for you, our member. It is the “behind the scenes” planning that makes everything we do work.