Shiru l’Adonai shir chadash…sing to the Eternal a new song…. (Psalm 96:1)
For the past eight years our High Holy Day services were graced by the voice, artistry and persona of Stephanie Horowitz, our cantorial soloist. Earlier this year Stephanie informed us that, because of health issues that she is addressing, she could not commit to returning to us this fall. Our thoughts and prayers are with Stephanie!
With regret, the Religious Living Committee turned its attention to finding someone to fill that role, a process that is always challenging and which, from past experience, takes the better part of a year. Sensitive to serious time constraints, as well as its obligation to find talent commensurate with the importance we attach to the High Holy Days worship experience, we realized that an extremely talented individual was to be found in our virtual back-yard…John Murelle, a versatile singer and voice instructor with a wide range of musical interests, including art song, opera and oratorio, Broadway and popular songs. He has been providing private vocal instruction at his East Sandwich studio for over 15 years. John also has a number of years of experience singing in synagogues in Massachusetts, taking part in High Holy Days worship.
John auditioned for the Religious Living Committee which was impressed by his voice, his engaging demeanor and his pronunciation of Hebrew. The committee voted to extend a contract to John and he accepted with enthusiasm.
Many of us have had opportunities to hear John Murelle perform in settings across the Cape, including in our own congregation. His artistry and talent come across clearly. What some may not know is that John has a deep and longstanding appreciation for spiritual matters and he views the opportunity to serve as our cantorial soloist as a wonderful opportunity to fuse his talents with his respect and admiration for all that the High Holy Days mean to our community.
As a non-Jew, John is part of a longstanding tradition, especially within Reform Jewish communities, of employing the finest of voices to give expression to the beautiful words at the core of our worship experience. Where there are particular sensitivities about “boundaries”, they will be explored by me in concert (pardon the pun!) with John and with our Religious Living Committee so as to ensure an experience at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that is fully commensurate with our needs and desires as a worshiping community.
When the time comes, I know that our congregation will welcome John and will be lifted up by his vocal artistry and spirit!