Welcoming Gitit Shoval, Our New Music Director and Cantorial Soloist, starting July 2022

I am so grateful that Gitit Shoval will be joining our staff as Music Director and Cantorial Soloist starting July 1, 2022 as was announced in an e-Blast yesterday. Gitit is, above all, a compassionate and deeply spiritual person. Her musical talent and Jewish values are two of the characteristics that underly all that she offers. Gitit has the innate ability to use her instruments – voice, guitar, and others – to achieve the many goals of synagogue music. We are so blessed that she is as excited to become part of our community as we are to have her join us.

I want to express my thanks to the members of both search committees from last year and this year, for their dedication, time, and wisdom. It is a big responsibility to recommend a candidate for a position like this, and they all performed their role with the seriousness it deserved.

Gitit will be joining us at Shabbat Services as one of our rotating Cantorial Soloists about once a month from January – May 2022. I invite you to come to temple for services, introduce yourself, and give her the warm welcome that is characteristic of our Temple Emanuel Sinai community.

Music is essential to our Jewish experience. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote a beautiful story about faith and music. He once watched a teacher explaining to young children the difference between a physical possession and a spiritual one. He had them build a paper model of Jerusalem. Then (this was in the days of tape-recorders) he put on a tape with a song about Jerusalem that he taught to the class. At the end of the session he did something very dramatic. He tore up the model and shredded the tape. He asked the children, “Do we still have the model?” They replied, No. “Do we still have the song?” They replied, Yes.

Music has extraordinary power to evoke emotion, remaining with us long after the sound of the instruments and voices fade away. This is especially true for Jewish music, which can be spiritual, comforting, inspiring, and just fun.

Jewish music is more than words alongside a tune: music is prayer and teaching; story-telling; pastoral care; community building; ritual observance; Jewish identity; social justice; mentoring children and the sharing of our Jewish values.

We can look forward to Gitit Shoval sharing all of these aspects through her music as well as engaging us to be her partners in musical expression.