Two beloved South Florida Cantors, Israel Rosen of Temple Solel in Hollywood and Rachelle Nelson of Temple Israel in Miami, each will be honored for lifetime achievements by their congregations in two musical events this weekend.
The event for Rosen titled “From Broadway to The Bimah” is a Jewish traditional Friday night Shabbat service that will take place on Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Solel.
Cantor Rosen will be retiring this year as a full time cantor at Temple Solel after 39 years of service beginning in 1984. In honor of his many congregants at Temple Solel, Rosen will be conducting the Friday night service singing the traditional evening Jewish prayers (with his guitar) that are matched with his favorite melodies from the Broadway stage.
“I have performed in musicals when I was still living in Tel Aviv (Rosen was born and raised in Israel) and then continued to entertain Jewish audiences when I came to America and I still do that,” said Rosen.
Some of the traditional Jewish prayers that will be sung with Broadway melodies include “Aleinu” to the tune of “All I Ask Of You” from “Phantom Of The Opera”, “Bar’chu and She’ma” (“Summertime” tune from ‘Porgy & Bess’), “Misheberach”, the traditional prayer for healing sung to the tune of “Some Enchanted Evening” from “The Sound Of Music” and “Shalom Rav” sung to the tune of “The Impossible Dream” from “Man Of La Mancha”, among other prayers.
Cantor Rosen will receive a few personal surprises to be announced at the event. Following services, an elegant Oneg Shabbat with festive desserts in honor of Rosen will take place for all attending the service.
“Cantor Rosen is a precious gem. Like a favorite great-uncle, he’s beloved by people of all generations, as he spreads joy through his sweet and giving personality as well as with his musical presence. He makes services beautiful, uplifting and his congregants feel touched and inspired,” said Jason Bloch, Past President of Temple Solel.
Both Rosen’s father and grandfathers were cantors. While serving in the Israel Defense Forces as both a cantor and paratrooper, Rosen helped liberate the city of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.
Along with his many achievements as a cantor, Rosen never forgot how much he loved Broadway songs. Just prior to leaving for America from Israel, Rosen performed in “Hello Dolly” in Israel.
“Cantor Rosen has inspired thousands upon thousands of adults, children and teens through his music. He has enriched countless life cycle events with his magnificent voice, guitar and ruach (Hebrew word for “spirit”),” said Marcy Roberts, a volunteer at Temple Solel.
Both the “From Broadway To The Bimah” service and the Oneg Shabbat are free to all who attend.
Cantor Rachelle Nelson made history becoming the first female cantor ever to lead a South Florida congregation when she became first a Cantorial Soloist and then Cantor at Temple Israel in Miami in 1986.
“It was groundbreaking for all women who aspired to be cantors and I am elated to have inspired other women to be Cantors,” said Nelson.
Many of the cantors who were inspired by Nelson in South Florida, both her peers and younger female cantors and cantorial soloists, will join her in a concert titled “Her Music, Her Songs” on Sunday, May 21 at 4 pm at Temple Israel.
The concert features many guest artists and musical students who have Nelson as their mentor, singing Jewish liturgical songs that Nelson has composed over her 37 year career as songwriter and Cantor.
“Rachelle (Nelson) hired me to work with her as a Cantorial Soloist at a time when women were not hired to sing in temples. I have been friends with Rachelle for over 40 years and am continually amazed at what she has accomplished for all female cantors today,” said Cantor Lisa Segal of Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, who worked with Nelson for 24 years prior to joining Temple Beth Sholom.
Nelson’s skills both as a Cantor who sings traditional Jewish prayers and who adds her personal interpretation though her own songs has raised the standard for what many cantors aspire to be.
“I love the way she (Nelson) matches the text with her melodies. Rachelle is a master of textual painting. For example, in her song ‘Ozi V’zimrat Yah’, which is the text of ‘’Shirat HaYam (in English ‘The Song of the Sea’) the piano accompaniment resembles moving water in order to sound like the walls of the Red Sea parting for the exodus from slavery to freedom,” said Segal.
Along with “Ozi V’zimrat Yah, Segal will also sing the Nelson songs “Light of Torah” and “P’tach Lanu” in the concert.
Music therapist and Cantorial Soloist Rebecca Gladstone, who met Nelson a few months ago, is an aspiring Cantor who Nelson has taken under her wing and will be performing at the concert.
“I have been a fan of Cantor Nelson’s compositions. Her compositions are catchy, intuitive, beautiful and fun. The congregation sings along to her songs even if they haven’t heard the melodies before. I am so grateful for all the knowledge and inspiration she (Nelson) has passed to me and I am so excited to grow with her help,” said Gladstone.
Gladstone will sing “B’Yad Chazakah” in the concert.
Other performers in the concert include opera singer Susana Diez and high school students Mason Lang and Jax Misrahi, the latter whom Nelson is mentoring as a future Cantor.
Accompanying Nelson and the guest artists on the stage will be a 30 voice choir from Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center Community Choir and the South Florida Jewish Community Choir.
Dr. Alan Mason, who planned the concert with Nelson, will be pianist and Music Director of the concert. Mason and Nelson met 40 years ago and have collaborated together as the Music Director and Cantor at Temple Israel for over a decade.
One of the many highlights in the concert will be Nelson and the guest artists singing “Shehecheyanu” to close the concert on an upbeat note.
“The song is translated as ‘Blessing For A Being’ and emphasizes the importance of all people just for being alive,” said Nelson. Nelson will introduce each of her songs to be performed.
“I will weave the story of my musical life through the music. So much of my music was composed in the walls of Temple Israel and shared with this unique congregation. I will showcase some of my earlier songs as well as the songs I have composed over the last ten years.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Cantor Israel Rosen will sing and play guitar in a unique Friday night Jewish prayer service “From Broadway To The Bimah” that combine Broadway show melodies to the traditional prayers on Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Solel, 5100 Sheridan Street in Hollywood, followed by an Oneg Shabbat desserts. Free admission, no reservations are needed. For more information, go to templesolel.com or call 954-989-0205
Cantor Rachelle Nelson will sing her compositions of Jewish liturgical songs in the concert titled “Her Music, Her Songs” along with other guest artists and choirs on Sunday, May 21 at 4 p.m. at Temple Israel, 137 NE 19th Street in Miami. Tickets are $18. For tickets and more information, go to templeisrael.net/concert or call 305-573-5900.