Seventeen years ago I came to Monmouth Reform Temple as a substitute cantor immediately before I began my formal studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from which I was invested in 1998. I stood on the bima and I felt like my hair was blown back by the active participation of the congregation. On that Shabbat I met Rabbi Priesand (now Rabbi Emerita) and lay people who are still active in our temple. The genuine warmth and active style of worship at MRT really stands out in my memory.
When I joined the temple staff in 2002, I was delighted to find that the warmth I had experienced so many years earlier was still here – and so was the eagerness people had to learn more about Jewish music and its many eclectic styles. I cherish the freedom given me by the temple to introduce new music, utilizing the best of traditional and contemporary Jewish composers, and to create Shabbat experiences that are unique and joyful. I also appreciate the willingness of the congregation to participate with enthusiasm, and when appropriate, just to listen and be touched by the beauty of our music.
Our musical program is enhanced by the participation of our volunteer choir made up of temple members who like to sing. Their dedication to rehearsing on a regular basis makes their participation in services all the more special. It is always a joy for me to work with them and to have them join me on the bima on special occasions throughout the year. If you are interested in joining the choir, we are eager to welcome you!
Children at our temple meet me in religious school and at services. I teach music to all ages and lead t’filah on Wednesday afternoons. I particularly enjoy working with our sixth and seventh grade students as they prepare to become b’nai mitzvah. Teaching them is one of the most thrilling and satisfying parts of my work at MRT because I get to know each child on a very personal level. All of our students do an amazing job, many stay on for confirmation and later come back to chant torah and haftarah at services. I take great pride in their accomplishments and always look forward to their continued participation.
When you join our congregation, you will become part of an amazing jewel in Monmouth County. I feel fortunate to be part of this community and grateful that my entire family is part of our temple. Indeed, we consider the temple to be our extended family – and I am sure you will too! Please stop in, drop me a message or email me, I would love to meet you and hear your story.
E-mail me CantorClissold@MonmouthReformTemple.org