Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains plans weekend programs to say farewell and thank Cantor Matt Axelrod, who is leaving as shul’s cantor after 33 years of service.
On Friday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m., a festive oneg dessert reception will follow services. There will be a farewell dinner party at the synagogue on Sunday, May 21, at 6.
Cantor Axelrod’s tenure at CBI started in 1990, when he was a student cantor studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary. His undergraduate degree is from Brandeis University, and he received his master’s degree of sacred music and ordination from JTS. Cantor Axelrod is CBI’s first full-time cantor.
Active in both the Jewish and interfaith communities, Cantor Axelrod is a past president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium, made up of clergy from many faith communities as well as leaders of local civic organizations. He also was part of the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education.
He has written three books — “Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide,” “Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder,” and “Raising the Bar Mitzvah: Reimagining What Our Kids Learn” — as well as many articles.
“We are extremely grateful that Cantor Matt, as we fondly call him, has been such a steady and integral member of our CBI family for more than 30 years,” Ryan Teicher, CBI’s president, said. “Throughout his long career at CBI, Cantor Matt impacted the lives of so many congregants, whether through his chanting at Shabbat and holiday services, at lifecycle events like b’nai mitzvah, weddings or funerals, or even at his casual ‘Coffee with the Cantor’ sessions.”
Cantor Axelrod will leave his CBI position in June to become the Cantors Assembly’s executive director. He has served the group in volunteer positions for many years and now is its vice president. He also sings with the New Jersey Cantors Concert Ensemble.
“We’ve structured the weekend for congregants, past and current, and community members, to officially thank Cantor Matt and to wish him well in his new role at the Cantors Assembly,” Barbara Wyckoff, event chair and CBI past president, said.
“As a close family friend of the Axelrods, I know how much Matt loved being CBI’s cantor and how torn he felt when he was offered the position at the Cantors Assembly, an organization that he feels passionate about, too.”
To register for the reception or the dinner, go to www.cbinj.org/form/cantorfarewell.