Joel Pressman, a cantor and longtime performing arts teacher at Beverly Hills High School, died on Nov. 18. He was 63.
In mid-September, Pressman, son of Jacob Pressman, rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth Am, and Marjorie Pressman, announced in a Facebook video that he was dying of abdominal cancer. In late September, more than 300 people met with Pressman to honor him at Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills. Read more about the event and about Pressman’s life below.
Unafraid of death, cantor offers a philosophical love fest
On a brilliantly sunny Sunday in late September, Joel Pressman, an esteemed cantor and a venerated former performing arts teacher at Beverly Hills High School, wearing a black T-shirt that proclaimed “I’m not dead yet,” walked slowly with a cane into Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills.
“Let’s everybody have a love-in,” the 63-year-old musician told the dozens of students, alumni, parents, colleagues and friends who’d gathered in his honor, as they whooped and applauded.
In mid-September, Pressman, son of Jacob Pressman, rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth Am, announced in a Facebook video that he is dying of cancer; his doctors have told him he has about two more months to live. Since then, the outpouring of love and support has been so great that Pressman looked forward to the park gathering in order to exchange goodbyes and thank yous with everyone who had touched his life during the 38 years he worked at the school. In his video, he emphasized that he didn’t want people “to cry, to focus on what they had lost,” but rather “on what they have gained.”