Scholar in Residence to lead sing-a-long
A community sing-a-long on Sunday, April 30 will be one of the highlight events when Hazzan Eric Wasser comes to Congregation Kol Ami in Tampa as the Rabbi Joel Wasser (z”l) Memorial Scholar in Residence.
The event for the day has been dubbed “Shiru Now – Sunday is for Singing” and will feature not only the melodic talents of Wasser, but also those of Kol Ami’s Cantor Beth Schlossberg.
Both cantors will lead those in attendance in song and will also explain how the song “Shiru” (Hebrew for sing) became part of Jewish history. “Shiru” was the Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1993, performed in Hebrew and English by Sarah’le Sharon & The Shiru Group.
The entry did not score well, but the chorus helps explain its significance: “Sing, sing with a piercing throat/ Don’t hold back any strength for tomorrow/ Sing, sing, and light a fire/ For the song is all that there is.”
The two cantors will also lead participants in singing: “Heller Areshet,” “Lo Yisa Goy,” “Ele Chamda Libi,” “is’mechu Hashamayim,” and “Oseh Shalom.” Also during the morning sing-along, a free breakfast will be served. To take part in that, RSVP by April 26 to (813) 962-6338 or email FrontOffice@kolami.org. There will be a free brunch following the program.
Wasser, of New Jersey, is the brother of the late Rabbi Joel Wasser, who served as rabbi at Kol Ami for 13 years prior to moving to Colorado, where he died in 2014 at age 50.
Wasser will give a D’var Torah at the Friday services, which begin at 6 p.m., on pikuach nefesh, the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. Wasser will share his personal story of having had the opportunity to save the life of a past president of his congregation. He will review sources pertaining to this mitzvah and share the ambivalence he felt before, during and after the process.
After services, there will be a congregational dinner. The cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 4-12, and free for those 3 and younger.
On Saturday, April 29 at 9:30 a.m., Wasser will again give a D’var Torah on ”Strange Jewish Rituals.” He will present an overview of life-cycle rituals and demonstrate how Jewish rituals fit into the paradigm of all ritual practices. He will offer examples of both little-known and more familiar rituals, in an attempt to highlight acculturation and self-identity. A luncheon will be provided at no charge after services. RSVP is requested by calling the office.
Reservations are required for dinner and suggested for the other events. Call the synagogue office at (813) 962-6338.
Wasser is honored to be part of his brother’s legacy at Kol Ami.
He is currently cantor at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel in New Jersey. Throughout his cantorial career, Wasser has been a leader in his community, attracting numerous young families to synagogue life while adding ruach to his shul and the surrounding Jewish neighborhood.
He has served congregational life not only as hazzan but also as an adult and youth choral director. He has tutored other cantors, served as a mashgiach, overseeing kosher certification, and is a Jerusalem trained mohel.
He was chosen one of the top “Jews in Chicago” by the Jewish Federation in the fall of 2003. In his past role as president of the Midwest region of the Cantors Assembly, he opened musically and humorously at the Chicago Theater for both Bill Cosby and Dennis Miller.
He is married and has three daughters.