Without music, Temple Micah wouldn’t be Temple Micah. Not today. Not in the congregation’s early days. As with so many other aspects of Micah life, music started out as a do-it-yourself project. As soon as the proto-congregation drew a critical mass of singing members, it formed a volunteer choir which has grown and evolved and continues today. However, it wasn’t very long before the temple community realized that its music could really benefit from professional help. Initially a series of part-time soloists were hired, eventually joined by three other professionals to form a quartet. (See Music Leaders) This format continued to the mid-1980s, when Rabbi Zemel trimmed the professional music staff to a music director and cantorial soloist. Bill Page, the professional tenor, stayed on as a volunteer. He converted to Judaism, joined the temple and continues to sing with the choir.
About a dozen years into the 21st century, the cantorial soloist Meryl Weiner became cantor. Currently, the music director and cantor participate in all services. The choir sings for B’nai Mitzvah services and the High Holy Days. Along the way, a few member musicians began to play flute for B’nai Mitvah as well as High Holy Days, when they were joined by clarinet and cello. In recent years, a volunteer pick-up band plays during one Friday service a month and a professional ensemble at another Friday service. (For more on Micah’s musical personnel, see our Music Leaders section.)
Regardless of the music personnel, however, the emphasis has always been on broad community participation. Worshippers are encouraged—indeed expected—to sing along with the cantor and choir, whose job it is to enhance the worship experience for the congregation, not to perform for an audience.
Music Director Teddy Klaus talks about music at Micah
We use music as a vehicle for prayer…Music reaches inside people deeply and touches them. Music has the unique ability to reach the heart and soul.
Cantor Meryl Weiner also talks about music at Micah
We’re trying to create an American Jewish sound. We want it to be a sound where people are comfortable praying in their own fashion.
Rabbi Zemel discusses the role of music in our worship services
The music is everything – the mystery and the magic…The music carries the ambiance. The meaning of a song is implicit – you don’t have to think about every word or sentence.
Bill Page on the role of music and the choir at Micah
Music is very personal and spiritual at Micah and less operatic. “Performance” is a bad word here — in the music program there are no plaques either.
Bill Page on joining the choir, changes since he joined and the awesomeness of Teddy Klaus as music director
At my first service for High Holy Days, there was electricity in the air…Teddy as Music Director–I have loved working with him the whole time. He is a great musician and a real mensch.
Temple Micah Choir Members as of January, 2017
Nadine Braunstein, Julie Galambush, Jennifer Gruber, Betty Hollis, Suzanne Saunders, Ellen Sommer
Barbara Diskin, Lora Ferguson, Jan Greenberg, Yael Hoffman, Mary Mahle, Marjorie Marcus, Sonia Pearson-White
Geoffrey Baron, Stuart Brown, Ed Grossman, William Page, Alex Shilo
David Adler, David Asher, Gary Dickelman, David Diskin, Zachary Lynch, Maurice Singer, Daniel Yett