Music at Temple Israel

Music at Temple Israel enhances our spiritual and communal life.

Our Mission

We welcome music lovers from both within and outside the temple family to experience music at Temple Israel.  We value sacred and secular musical enrichment through musical Shabbatot, holidays, concerts, open mics, and other wonderful events.

Why Music

We offer music at our congregation in NJ and our membership includes many talented musicians.Temple Israel’s Music Committee emerged in 2011 out of an inescapable realization: We recognized an unusually widespread love of music within the congregation combined with an unusually large number of musically accomplished and talented congregants. Today, there are eighteen music committee members including professional musicians, serious amateurs, and other enthusiastic congregants.  The committee has evolved into a warm and welcoming chavurah.

We are enthusiastic about sharing fine musical experiences, both spiritual and secular, with our members and people from the wider community. Tamara Reps Freeman, DMA, directs the choir and arranges all the music for the bimah band instruments:  violin, flute, guitar, piano, clarinets, bassoon, piano, Israeli drum, and drum set.

Our Activities

  • Temple Israe’lights Bimah Band: This instrumental group, all congregants, accompanies the liturgical prayers during Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services once a month. The band plays dance music during erev Simchat Torah and other evening holidays.
  • Friday night Shabbatot with organist Dr. Ralph Selig: Dr. Selig frequently and generously donates his entrancing organ accompaniment to some Kabbalat Shabbat services.
  • Flute Shabbatot: Two times each year we have the honor of hosting the New Jersey Wind Symphony Flute Ensemble. These gifted musicians, who play six different kinds of flutes, provide exquisite prelude music to Friday night services and beautiful accompaniment to prayers, enhancing the experience of music at Temple Israel.
  • Shabbat Under the Summer Sky: The summer is punctuated with two highly anticipated Shabbatot, outdoors, weather permitting, or indoors. A concert precedes the Kabbalat Shabbat service, which is accompanied by the bima band . The service is followed by a Shabbat dinner prepared by music committee chefs.
  • High holy day music: Nearly two dozen congregants comprise the choir that helps deepen the experience of High Holy Day services. A septet sings iconic prayers during High Holy Day musaf services.  Choir members sing yom tov and Israeli songs to accompany Torah hakafot.  The Yom Kippur Martyrology service is enhanced with choir members singing songs composed in the Holocaust ghettos and concentration camps.  Tamara Freeman (viola) and Irene Bressler (harp) play the evocative Kol Nidre composed by Max Bruch to begin the Kol Nidrei service.  The bimah band accompanies spirited dancing for erev Simchat Torah.
  • Open Mic: During this annual event congregants share their musical, storytelling, and other talents as they have their chance to take the stage.
  • American-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) Concert: This annual concert is sponsored by congregant Richard Schnaittacher on behalf of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF). Superbly talented young Israeli musicians share with us performances worthy of Carnegie Hall (where some of them have appeared).
  • Saturday Night Concert Series: Concerts are scheduled throughout the year that feature gifted musicians performing music of all genres. A festive reception follows, melding delicious treats and warm fellowship.
  • Music and religious-school synergy: The music committee works closely with the religious school to sponsor master Jewish music educators who enrich the children’s knowledge, tefillot, and positive Jewish identity.
We offer music at Temple Israel and our membership includes many talented musicians.

Join Us

Music at Temple Israel draws its strength from its membership. All are welcome to be part of this extraordinary program and to feel the warmth of the committee and performance groups.