The installation of Dov Goldberg as the new cantor and educational director of Congregation B’nai Israel will formally recognize a new approach for the Conservative synagogue in Rumson.
The event, scheduled for March 2, confirms a decision made more than a year ago to merge the two positions into one in order to economize and, at the same time, encourage more integration of varying members’ interests and experiences.
Since Goldberg, 52, has already been on the job more than seven months, the installation ceremony will be more a celebration of his work than a mere welcome to a newcomer.
“Our search committee, under the direction of Joel Weissglass, came up with an outstanding candidate,” Rabbi Jeff Sultar said. “Not only can Cantor Goldberg do both jobs, but he does both well.”
Sultar added, “He is well-liked by everyone and has rapidly become a respected member of the CBI community.”
CBI president Francine Semaya noted the new cantor’s warmth and enthusiasm. “We are blessed that he has such a beautiful voice and a love of Judaism, but also that he is approachable and loves working with people of all ages,” she said.
Weissglass, a Holmdel resident, recalled his first meeting with Goldberg in the spring of 2013. “The guy was astonishing and wonderfully accomplished. He’s a rabbi’s son, and he fully embodies the spirituality that comes from that kind of background.”
Rabbi Solomon Goldberg was the longtime rabbi of the Rutland Jewish Center in Rutland, Vt. Rabbi Goldberg and his wife Marilyn, like Cantor Goldberg and his wife Danielle, have moved to Fair Haven, “and they have become an integral part of our CBI family,” said Sandy Rosenbloom, cochair of the installation committee. Rabbi Goldberg reads Torah at many Shabbat services, and Danielle runs the Sisterhood gift shop.
Cantor Goldberg appreciates the way CBI members have embraced him and his family. He told NJJN he is conscious of having stepped into historic footsteps. His predecessor was Marla Barugel, one of the first two women to become hazanot in the Conservative movement. After 26 years at CBI, she is now cantor emerita.
“Cantor Barugel has been nothing but gracious and supportive to me,” Goldberg said. “What made the transition a bit easier is that I did not directly replace her, but have taken on a new, more broadly defined role.”
In his work at CBI, Goldberg said, he would try to express his deep love of traditional Judaism and to inspire others to share his feelings.
At the same time, he suggested in a phone interview, tradition need not be like a cul-de-sac with only one way in and out. “I believe it is possible to be faithful to tradition while still being able to explore a fresh outlook that makes Judaic beliefs and practices more accessible — particularly to people who are confronting all the complexities of modern life.”
Goldberg said he was drawn to CBI by the “palpable connection” between him and the members during his weekend interview session last spring.
The cantor has four children and three stepchildren ranging in age from 13 to 28. “All are boys, except for the one in the middle,” he said.
On July 1, the same day Goldberg began his new position at CBI, a new synagogue director also came aboard. Emilie Kovit-Meyer, a CBI member whose daughter attended the shul’s preschool, was a member of the cantorial search committee, and that unexpectedly led to her hiring.
“The position had opened up,” she told NJJN in a phone interview, “and I was asked to fill in on a volunteer basis. After just one week, I loved it so much that I applied for the full-time job.”
Kovit-Meyer’s background includes 17 years in human resources for advertising, pharmaceutical, publishing, and direct marketing companies.