Australian cantor joins Temple Beth El in Stamford
By Judie Jacobson
Cantor George Mordecai, who has performed Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Middle Eastern liturgical music at concert halls and synagogues all across the country, as well as in England, Paris, and Israel, has joined Temple Beth El in Stamford as cantor, it was announced recently by the temple’s president, Eileen H. Rosner. Mordecai comes to Temple Beth El from Temple Emanu-El, “The South Beach Synagogue” in Miami, Florida, where he served as cantor.
“Cantor Mordecai has already demonstrated his ability to engage the congregation and I am looking forward to many exciting services, programs and learning experiences in the years to come,” said Rosner in making the announcement.
“Cantor Mordecai possesses a rare combination of musical talent, personal charisma, spiritual depth and sensitivity,” noted Beth El’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman. “He also shares a vision that we have been growing here for more than a decade, one emphasizing inclusiveness, participation and warmth. His eclectic style and background fit precisely the style of music that is exciting Jews of all generations.”
Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, Mordecai was immersed from an early age in the musical and liturgical traditions of his family. He went on to lead services at the Sephardic Synagogue in Sydney and appeared at various multicultural music festivals around Australia. He also sang with the Renaissance Players, a renowned and innovative early music ensemble based at Sydney University, and with the Capella Floriani, a musical/theatrical company devoted to a spiritual vision of the performing arts. He also toured Europe with the renowned Cantor Naphtali Hershtig and the Great Synagogue Choir of Jerusalem.
A graduate of the University of New South Wales, where he received a B.A. in history, Mordecai received his Cantorial investiture and Master’s Degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000. Upon graduation, he worked for four years as the cantor at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel in Philadelphia. He has also served as cantor in Philadelphia, and as assistant cantor at Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia. He recently presented a major concert on the musical traditions of the Jude-Iraqi community, as well as performing with the world renowned choral ensemble Seraphic Fire.
“A successful community is one which at its core understands that we are all “betzelem elohim”, created in the divine image,” said Mordecai in accepting the position. “My wife Michal and I have been so impressed by the warmth and hospitality that members of Beth El and the greater Jewish community in Stamford have extended to us and we are thrilled to be moving to the area. We look forward to adding our voices to the creative and dynamic community you have all created and are honored and delighted to call Stamford our new home.”