Congregation Emanu-El has a long and distinguished musical history. Its cantors were well known and respected throughout the Jewish world. Daniel Levy, Alexander Weisler (a student of the great Solomon Sulzer) Max Wolff, and Edward Stark laid the foundation for a rich cantorial tradition carried on to this day.
Cantor Stark's musical compositions are still performed throughout Reform Jewish congregations in America. Cantor Reuben Rinder, whose tenure spanned some 50 years, was not only a cantor of renown, but also an impresario, composer, and pastoral presence whose memory is still held in high regard by senior members of the Congregation. Cantor Rinder was most noted for the influence he had on the careers of young artists such as Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin, as well as his commitment to the commissioning of such important liturgical works as the Bloch "Sacred Service", the Milhaud "Service Sacre", and the Sacred Services of Marc Lavry and Paul Ben-Haim.
Cantor Joseph Portnoy's years of service were distinguished by his sweet voice and his pastoral and educational role in our Congregation. He continued the tradition of introducing new and exciting musical works for our synagogue, which included major compositions by Sergiu Natra, Seymour Schifrin, and Bonia Shur.
The present Cantor, Roslyn Barak, has dedicated herself to presenting the music of the Jewish people both past and present with its varied cultural traditions. As well, she continues the legacy of commissioning new works, including a new Sabbath morning service by Ben Steinberg ("Avodat Hakodesh"), a setting of the Alvin Fine poem "Birth is a Beginning" by Ami Aloni, settings of Haftarot texts of the Prophet Isaiah ("Isaiah's Consolations") by Ami Aloni, and a new Havdalah service by Michael Isaacson, with poetic interpolations written by Rabbi Stephen Pearce, as well as other musical pieces for festivals and High Holy Days.
Marsha Attie has been collaborating with Jonathan Ferris and Eric Schoen here at Emanu-El since 1998. Together they are the music of the Late Shabbat Service and all of our Contemporary High Holy Day services here at temple. They collaborate instrumentally with guitars, bass, mandolin, ukelele, percussion, you name it. Vocally, they love to create rich multi-layered harmonies that create transcendent moments during prayer. As a trio they are frequently asked to sing at weddings, parties and other community events. both Jonathan and Eric are considered the best songleaders in the Bay area, not to mention the U.S., and we are lucky to have them here with us!