Jewish Journal

Gole to lead Cantor’s Assembly

by Tom Tugend

Posted on May. 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Cantor Joseph Gole of Sinai Temple

Cantor Joseph Gole of Sinai Temple

Cantor Joseph Gole of Sinai Temple will be installed as president of the international Cantors Assembly during the organization's convention in Los Angeles, at a time when the profession is facing changes and challenges.

Highlight of the May 6-10 meeting will be "On the Wings of Song," a public concert of the cantorial art, or hazzanut, at Sinai Temple on May 7. Guest performers will include Theodore Bikel and Mike Burstyn, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Israel Air Force Memorial and Heritage Project.

"Cantorial music has always reflected the world around it, and while retaining the traditional chants, is today strongly influenced by pop and folk music," Gole said.

The Cantors Assembly's 450 members represent mainly Conservative synagogues, but include every other Jewish denomination.

"The trend among cantorial groups today, as in day schools and at American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism), is toward communal inclusiveness, beyond denominational lines," Gole said.

One of the challenges facing the Conservative movement, according to those familiar with the demographics, is that both the membership and spiritual leadership are aging.

As a result, there is some concern that as older cantors retire, they may not be replaced by congregations.

More than 250 cantors from the United States, Canada and Israel are expected to attend the assembly's 60th convention and will participate in Gole's installation as president. Also to be honored will be Cantor Nathan Lam of Stephen S. Wise Temple.

Gole was 18 when he first led the congregation of Burbank's Temple Emanuel in prayer as cantor. Now, at age 59, he sounds better than ever, according to Sinai Temple worshippers.
Recognized for his lyric tenor voice and musicianship, Gole has also performed, among others, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Youth Symphony, and numerous opera companies in this country and Europe.

"There is a tremendous satisfaction in the cantor's role of infusing spirituality into the service, in touching people in a significant way during lifecycle events, and in preparing boys and girls for their b'nai mitzvah," said Gole.

Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple expressed his congregation's pride at Gole's election to the assembly presidency. "Cantor Gole's musical and religious leadership, which has long been recognized in the Los Angeles Jewish community, is now being acknowledged nationally, and indeed internationally," Wolpe said.

The May 7 concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, preceded by a 6 p.m. dinner.

For ticket information, contact Maureen Rosenberg at (310) 481-3235 or by e-mail, mrosenberg@sinaitemple.org. Tickets can also be ordered online at www.sinaitemple.org.

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