KIND WORDS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
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Wedding of Gabi S. and Michael N.
Dec 4th, 2012
Dear Sir or Madam,
We are writing to provide you with our highest recommendations of Cantor Ben Rosner. Although we have both attended religious services in innumerable congregations around the world, from France and Germany to Israel and the U.S., we have never encountered anyone with more enthusiasm for his position and with a greater gift for this key role in a congregation. Cantor Rosner is a talented, passionate, diligent, and highly motivated young professional who will fill any Jewish community with light and warmth.
In order to assist you in evaluating our letter of recommendation, we would like to share some information about our backgrounds with you: My husband grew up in an American Jewish home and attended a reform synagogue in the U.S. He graduated from Brandeis University, where he was actively involved in Hillel and had many Jewish friends. In contrast, I grew up as the only Jewish child in my rural home-town in Germany and I was only used to practice Judaism in a small orthodox synagogue. After I graduated from Tufts University, where I was able to practice Judaism openly for the time in my life, and when I moved to Pittsburgh to attend law school, I often felt lonely because I had nobody to spend the holidays with. My fiance-to-date (now my husband), Dr. Michael was a resident in internal medicine and worked long hours, so I spent many holidays alone.
In 2009, a few months into my first year in law school, I met Cantor Ben Rosner through his wife, Alyssa, who also a law student. As soon as we met, both Ben and Alyssa 1have welcomed me for Shabbat and high holiday dinners to their home and treated me like a close friend and family. Michael, was always welcome to join us even when he came back from the hospital late in the evening. Cantor Rosner, knowing that I had no family in the area, always made sure that I received tickets to attend holiday services with him and Alyssa and that I had an open invitation to spend the holiday dinners with them and their family. Although we met Cantor Rosner through his wife, we have had the privilege and honor to get to know him better over the course of the last three years and we have both grown very fond of him. Since 2009, we became so attached to Cantor Rosner, that we requested his presence at our marriage. Michael and I loved Cantor Rosner’s performances and his beautiful “niggen” during holiday services, so we had hoped that he could share his outstanding talent during the special moments of our wedding with our families and friends. Unfortunately, two weeks before the date of our wedding, some last-minute logistical challenges arose that were beyond our control, and, without hesitation, Cantor Rosner quickly averted a disaster. He took the time to meet with us to discuss concerns, brainstorm possible solutions, and provide support during this short period of time. Ultimately, Cantor Rosner was not only the sole officiant and rescuer of our wedding, but he also consolidated my Eastern-European orthodox family traditions with my husband’s modern American customs into one exquisitely executed ceremony.
On June 17, 2012, Cantor Rosner married us under a beautifully-decorated chuppah surrounded by all of our friends and family. The ceremony was cordial, intimate, loving and romantic. Most of our guests had tears of joy in their eyes when Cantor Rosner sang the seven blessings with his delightful voice and musical gift. Our parents, grandmothers, and brothers, who were under the chuppah with us, were deeply moved by Cantor Rosner’s outstanding performance of “Dodi Li” and his overall performance during our wedding ceremony. For weeks following our wedding, our guests called and wrote us to share their infatuation with the “most beautiful wedding ceremony,” “most sincere blessings of the Cantor,” and other lovely compliments of Cantor Rosner. Michael and I are proud to have been married by Cantor Rosner and we think of the wonderful and memorable day that he created for us.
In the time leading up to the ceremony, Cantor Rosner was supportive and professional at all stages of the planning process. He also coordinated with both our wedding planner and other parties to ensure a smooth execution of the ceremony and the entire day. Our wedding planner, photographers, wedding party and vendors all confirmed that it was a pleasure to work with Cantor Rosner. After all, it was only thanks to Cantor Rosner’s help and efforts that our keenest expectations were exceeded. In addition, Cantor Rosner made this emotional day a happy one for us, our families, our wedding party, friends and guests. In a short time, Cantor Rosner was able to organize a harmonious and beautiful ceremony. His timing is always impeccable and he makes everybody around him feel comfortable. Moreover, Cantor Rosner’s work product
is always of the highest quality, no matter whether it is a high holiday, a Shabbat dinner at home, or a beautiful wedding with nearly 200 guests.
In addition, as part of the ceremony, Cantor Rosner engaged a pianist to accompany him, so that our visions for these special moments would be honored. Not only did he also work with the violinist that we had previously hired, but he also played the guitar and created a magnificent musical interlude. Most notably, Cantor Rosner chanted with his superb voice and fascinated us and our guests with the angelic tunes and heartfelt words he chose for our wedding. Some of our guests had travelled from very far to attend our wedding, such as from Brazil, Germany, Israel, Canada, Alaska, and England. The overwhelming feedback from all of our guests was that they were “blown away with the Rebbe,” “loved the Cantor,” were “so impressed with his majestic performance at the ceremony” and that “this was the nicest wedding ceremony [they] had ever seen!” Cantor Rosner combined our innermost wishes for this special day into a heartwarming and beautiful ceremony and sent us off into marriage with his warmest blessings.
We highly recommend Cantor Rosner for a cantorial position and believe that he would be an enrichment for any Jewish congregation. Cantor Rosner’s high ethical and professional standards, together with his love for our religion and exquisite talents combine to the finest attributes that a Cantor can contribute. On a final note, we wish Cantor Rosner the best for his future career and we know that he will be an invaluable addition to any congregation.
Julian Elbing and Harvey Robins, Past Presidents of Beth Shalom
November 9th, 2012
As past Presidents of the Congregation it is incumbent that we acknowledge in writing our deep appreciation, and express to the public what a wonderful and fine young professional Cantor Benjamin Rosner has exemplified while serving our Congregation since June of 2011.
We personally believe that our Congregation, by not extending Cantor Rosner’s contract, will sustain a deep loss and will be a great and esteemed benefit to any new Congregation that he chooses to serve.
As past Presidents of our Congregation we have been privileged to participate in numerous Congregational services and events over the last several years and can attest to his accomplishments. We have personally been present when members of the Congregation and public without being asked, have given him great accolades for his services, studies and life cycle events that he has performed. We were both pleased in the way he was accepted and served the Jewish Community both the upcoming as well as the established generations, both at our Congregation and in our Jewish Commtmity of the Greater Pittsburgh area.
There are many professionals who serve our Religious needs and the obvious strengths of Cantor Rosner, are his integrity, heartfelt Jewish values and willingness be available to undertake both new frontiers as well as follow established traditions. Very few professionals in our Jewish faith can be found to have this great ability both professionally and morally. Cantor Rosner’s musical ability was a bright spot in his services that he brought to the Congregation. Many new innovations joined wi~ old traditions were a “Beacon” to our Beacon Street Congregation and the Jewish community at large. We want it to be well known that anyone may call us if they wish to aid in Cantor Ben Rosner’s bright professional future.
Julian Elbing & Harvey Robins, Past Presidents of Beth Shalom
Fran S., Congregant
Dec 23rd, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
I hope that this letter finds you well after the joy of Hanukkah. I’m writing to give a perspective on the important role that Cantor Ben has played in the Jewish practice and experience of both myself and my fiancé, Reuben Biel. Among other things, Cantor Ben welcomed us to the community, encouraged us to become more involved in Beth Shalom, and acted as a teacher and friend to both me and Reuben.
Reuben and I moved to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2010, and started searching for a congregation. I wanted to start my conversion process, and we found Beth Shalom to have the most welcoming and participatory services in the area. As we started going to services more, Cantor Ben made a point of saying hello to us each week at Kiddush, often as other members of the congregation would smile politely and walk past. He was among the first people to make us feel like members of the Beth Shalom community.
Cantor Ben also encouraged us to become more involved in the synagogue. Reuben and I began attending Kabbalat Shabbat regularly in December 2010 and greatly enjoyed Shabbat Alive, both for the music itself and for the larger numbers of people and younger people that it drew. Outside of the synagogue, Cantor Ben would lead Shabbat in the Home with J’Burgh. Through this, he helped me and Reuben meet other young Jews in the community.
Cantor Ben also acted as an important teacher and friend to both me and Reuben. He taught Reuben kabbalat Shabbat and ma’ariv, which Reuben subsequently led. He also helped Reuben review and prepare to lead Shacharit at Beth Shalom. Cantor Ben also helped me review for my beit din before conversion and Cantor Ben and Alyssa have invited me into their home many times for other events, such as a musical havdallah service and Shabbat dinners.
Beth Shalom is a wonderful shul, but it can be difficult to feel welcome as a young person without children. Nevertheless, Cantor Ben helped make us feel comfortable and welcome as a kind, friendly, and enthusiastic leader. Both Reuben and I believe that Cantor Ben is a huge asset to the Beth Shalom congregation. Due to our recent move to Oregon, we will sorely miss the weekly pleasure of Cantor Ben’s cantillation and the pleasure of his company.
Fran S., Congregant
Greg S., Ph.D., and Community Musician
Jan 1, 2012
This note is to thank you for all you’ve done for the Jewish music community in Pittsburgh over the past several months.
As you know I am the chair of Life Long Jewish learning and also an accompanist at Rodef Shalom. In addition I have my own calling as an independent Jewish music maker, regularly performing and distributing my own albums internationally, and performing on multiple other Jewish albums and gigs, some of which involve Pittsburgh artists as well as national and international artists. I frequently play at events throughout the Pittsburgh area. I am writing in all of these capacities.
You have specifically addressed two community needs that have been crying out for a champion.
For the past decade that I’ve been here in Pittsburgh, the community has always had many talented and inspired musicians, but no force to bring them together.
We’ve also had many young people on the verge of becoming more involved in Judaism whom we have not been able to reach.
Whenever members of the Pittsburgh Jewish music community get together, someone’s bound to say “someone should do something about that. We should get together more. We should have events together. We should include younger people.” To date, no one has been willing to take these roles. Regarding the first issue, you’ve done much to galvanize the Pittsburgh Jewish music community and this work has been strongly noticed in the community. Your unique approach to inviting musicians from other synagogues to play at Beth Shalom’s events and working with them beforehand, your representation of Beth Shalom at planing meetings for cross-synagogue musical events (e.g., the upcoming visit by Rabbi Shefa Gold) have been strong. Your recent hosting of the Dec 24 “Adult Shul of Rock” where members of at least 4 different synagogues played was a unique and thrilling multi-institutional community evening. The huge time-investment it took to put this together was well worth the effort.
Regarding the second cause, you’ve done so much to involve Pittsburgh’s “lost” 20-40 generation. Your Sukkot Havdalah at your home was a huge success. The recent Shabbat in the Home, with strong representation of the JBurgh community, has brought new and unified life to a demographic that many of us had written off as unreachable.
I appreciate that this work takes a great deal of time, and you should know that the investment is worth the effort. Your work has built a strong reputation for Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh. Beth Shalom is fast becoming known as a go-to place for young Jewish seekers searching for a musical home and you, personally, are looked at as a strong mover and shaker in the community. Your appearances at cross-synagogue Jewish music events such as David Goldstein’s CD release event atTemple Sinai are noticed as enthusiastic participation by Beth Shalom’s leadership in the Pittsburgh Jewish music scene. Increasingly when you say you’re hosting an event, people listen. In this way you are galvanizing our community, making your own synagogue stronger, and creating a unity of purpose and spirit here in Pittsburgh which I personally have waited for, for years.
I look forward to seeing and supporting your continued work on behalf of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community. Good luck.
Greg S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Jewish Music Maker
Cantor Ilan Mamber, Temple Beth Rishon
Jan 25th, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Ilan M., and I am the Cantor at Temple Beth Rishon of Northwest Bergen County in Wyckoff, NJ and a member of the Cantors Assembly. It is a real pleasure for me to be writing this recommendation for Ben Rosner, a cantorial student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ben Rosner has been a cantorial intern at our congregation at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, NJ for the last three years. I have worked very closely with Ben throughout his tenure with us, and I can emphatically and most positively comment on his job performance, character, relationship to our congregation, the clergy, the rest of the stff, and, of course, his relationship with me, the Cantor of the congregation and Ben’s immediate supervisor.
Ben is a personable and likable young man whose maturity and commitment to our community I respect, and whose behavior is always impeccable and appropriate. From the first day he arrived at our congregation a little over three years ago, he was immediately able to make connections with our congregants. Possessing genuine charm, he is very well liked and admired throughout our congregation, and in the three yeas he has been here, there has never been a problem finding home hospitality for him. Our congregants willingly volunteered their homes and gladly provided him Shabbat meals. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his personality endearing. He is a kind and caring person who loves working with people, personality traits that are most important for anyone who is going to be working within a community.
Ben has a magnificent tenor voice. He is a very talented musician who can sing anything a cappella or with musical accompaniment, and he can play a number of musical instruments, including guitar, mandolin, piano, and drums. He is an outstanding guitar player who has mastered a number of playing styles, including classical, folk, and jazz. In the three years Ben has been with us. I have seen him mature developmentally and musically. He is always striving to learn more and to improve himself. He has a strong work ethic. If he is not familiar with a piece of music, he takes the time to transcribe it for himself. He will often be inspired to arrage a liturgical musical setting or choir or instruments or to write a totally original composition. I particularly enjoyed singing with him, since his tenor complemented my baritone, and he is capable of coming up with inspired harmonies and vocal improvisations when needed.
Ben has been involved in all aspects of our congregational life. His duties and responsibilities varied according to the needs of our congregation, as well as his educational needs. Ben regularly leads Shabbat services with our clergy. While most of the time he co-leads with the Rabbi and me, he capably leads services without any other clergy present. He consistently collaborates with me to create dynamic musical services for our congregation, as well as spends time rehearsing these services with me, our choirs, and other musicians. He has developed his own distinct style at our pulpit that is integrated with, and does not detract from, our congregational norm.
His work with our choirs is admirable. He is focused during rehearsals with our adult choir, whether he is the soloist, a member of the tenor section, or conducting one of the choral selections. He recently started an advanced teen choir that has been performing at our special services and events. He has developed a relationship with many of our musical teens and has inspired them to be interested in Jewish liturgical and choral music. Of course, Ben performs regularly at our special musical events and concerts, always inspiring our audiences with his beautiful voice, outstanding interpretations, and masterly skill on the guitar.
Ben regularly instructs our Shabbat prayer classes, where he teaches our congregational melodies to our Sixth and Seventh graders. He also leads a Junior Congregation that includes all our Third through Sixth Graders, where he provides a fun and dynamic spiritual Shabbat experience to our students, while educating them about prayers and Festivals.
Ben plays an integral role at our religious school. He teaches traditional Jewish Festival songs, as well as folk songs, to students from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. He has been working closely with our Hebrew School principal in assembling a music curriculum. In addition, he has been regularly tutoring our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students in their Torah and Haftarah portions.
Ben has become an integral part of our congregational family. He has been available for pastoral care, and has participated in and conducted shiva minyanim at people’s homes.
Ben meets with me regularly for supervision. We work together analyzing the strengths of what we do, as well as what still needs work, whether musically, administratively, or communally. He takes our working relationship seriously, and I have seem great strides and improvement in his efforts. Our working relationship is outstanding, and I had the pleasure and honor a year ago to co-officiate with our Rabbi at Ben and Alyssa’s wedding.
In conclusion, Ben has been a great asset to our congregation the last three years. Our congregation had established the Cantorial Intern program three years ago, and ben has been with us throughout its duration. The program has been a success, largely due to his presence. His visibility has inspired our teens, and he has established a teen choir, something I have not been able to do myself because of time constraints. He has been an asset to our Hebrew School, as well as acting as an additional tutor for our excellent Bar Mitzvah program. He has infused our religious services and cultural programs with his beautiful voice, outstanding guitar playing, new melodies, and charming personality.
I believe Ben would be an asset to any congregation that employs him as a hazzan. I highly recommend Ben both as a cantor and as a worker. I recommend him as someone who posesses excellent communication and educational skills, Jewish knowledge, and leadership qualities. I recommend him as a talented and gifted person with wonderful musical skills. I recommend him as a superb, sensitive human being who cares about his fellow men and women. A real mensch.
Cantor Ilan Mamber, Temple Beth Rishon
Joel Cohen, Founder of Door to Door Tutoring
Feb 9th, 2010
To Whom It May Concern,
This letter is to serve as a recommendation for Benjamin Rosner, who has served in the capacity of lead tutor with Door To Door Tutoring servicing families in the New York and New Jersey area since September of 2006. During his time with our organization, Ben has worked with children from the ages of 6 to 14. Please, let it be known that all of us at Door To Door Tutoring hold Ben in the highest regard and offer him an extraordinary recommendation. Any organization would be lucky to have Ben on staff.
Personally speaking, it has been an absolute joy to work with Ben. He is organized, timely and responsible. I have been kept up to speed with all aspect of his responsibilities and progress with each family that he has worked with. He communicates well be it live, oh the phone or over email. I, along with many others on my staff have gone to Ben as a resource for Jewish music, teaching methods and advice on dealing with challenging parents and students.
There are many Door To Door Tutoring families that are happily available to speak on Ben’s behalf, They constantly offer the words of praise to me about Ben. In fact, many families have requested him directly and asked for additional time with him on a weekly basis. Here are a few examples of some of their comments:
“Ben’s approach to Jewish Studies, Hebrew Prayer and Holidays has enabled my children to approach and embrace Judaism when they otherwise were disenchanted.”
On several occasions Ben has had the opportunity to help lead lessons with me and lead Shabbat services. On each of these occasions; his voice has taken command and drawn his audience in, his melodies have encouraged great participation and when he speaks, his words serve as a window into his caring heart showing the deep feelings that he has for those with whom he works and his feelings for a bright future, rich with Jewish tradition and ruach (spirit). Simply said, anyone that encounters Ben at a service that he leads or directly through his teaching is always left better and with a more fulfilled Jewish experience, than before meeting him (myself included).
Ben’s cheerful smile, compassionate heart, constantly friendly demeanor and his “always willing to help” attitude make him someone that involved with Door To Door Tutoring wants to work with more. I could go on (and on) about the success of his students, the impact that he has had on Door To Door Tutoring and the families with which he has worked. I am happy to do so, should you require more information or a live conversation. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.
Joel E. Cohen
Judi R. Adult Student at Beth Shalom
Cantor Ben helped me to take the first steps in chanting festival trope,for Shir Hashirim, Kohelet and Ruth, supporting me all the way from practice to the bimah.
As a mom who is approaching her son’s Bar Mitzvah year, I wanted to increase my knowledge base.
Cantor Ben helped me to do this!
He encouraged my personal growth of tefillah,
which has resulted in a deeper understanding, and our increased kavanah as a family.
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Emert, Temple Beth Rishon
Jan 25th, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
It is my pleasure to write this letter of recommendation for Ben Rosner, a cantorial student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, who has served Temple Beth Rishon , Wyckoff, NJ as its intern for the past three years. I have worked very closely with Ben and feel most qualified to comment on his job performance, character, relationship with the congregation, and in particular, his relationship with me, the rabbi of the congregation.
Ben is a very talented young man. He has a magnificent voice which is truly inspiring. In addition, he is a kind young man, whose concern for congregants and fellow clergy alike is most admirable. Ben is an affable person, whom congregants admired and liked from the day he arrived. It is clear that he loves what he does, and has a charming enthusiasm which is contagious.
In the three years that he has served as our cantorial intern, he has led services with other clergy and/or alone at least twice a month. He has substituted for our cantor during the summers and at other times during the year. He has worked very closely in collaboration with our cantor, rehearsing the choir and working well with assorted musicians to create dynamic services. Ben is quite comfortable in a range of liturgical music settings, whether singing accapella, or playing the guitar, and/or other musical instruments. Ben has tutored our b’nai mitzvah students and led Junior Congregation for grades Aleph through Dalet throughout the three years. Moreover, Ben was responsible for teaching our Hay students the prayer melodies on Shabbat mornings before the congregational service.
Ben has played an integral role in our religious school, teaching Jewish music to students from Kindergarten through sixth grade. He has worked closely with the director of our school to assemble a music curriculum for future use in our Sunday school program. In addition, Ben has been part of our clergy team, conducting shiva minyanim throughout his tenure as cantorial intern.
I have worked very closely with Ben throughout the three years he has served as our intern. I have taken great delight in his enthusiasm, in his style, in the way he engages congregants and in his willingness to learn new music, both contemporary and traditional.
I believe that our professional relationship worked well because I was clear from the start as to what I expected from Ben. I was pleased that he often solicited an outline of the services and would ask if there were specific compositions I wanted. I would often receive phone calls and/or emails from Ben requesting that we sit together so that it would be clear what he needed to prepare. Ben worked hard to prepare new music and often sat with me after the service and during the week to critique the music and his performance.
I have seen Ben mature in the three years and have witnessed great potential in this outstanding young cantor to be. I had the honor of officiating at Ben and Alyssa’s wedding which brought me great pleasure.
All in all, any congregation which employs Ben Rosner as its Hazzan will be most pleased and have a wonderful, caring and talented young man in its midst.
It is a great honor for me to recommend Ben Rosner for a position as Hazzan.
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Emert, Temple Beth Rishon
Ilene and Jacob K., on the Occasion of their Son’s Bris
Feb 9th, 2010
When our son Avi was eight days old (just a few short weeks ago) we were honored to welcome him into the covenant with G-d and the Jewish people by having a brit milah in our home surrounded by family and friends. This was an emotional and meaningful event for us all. We were lucky to have this already beautiful ceremony enriched and elevated by having Rabbi Werbow and Cantor Rosner participate with prayers, readings and music that helped bring our community together in ritual and song. Both the Rabbi and Cantor contributed greatly to this event and we had numerous comments from friends (some Beth Shalom members, some from the Yeshiva, Young People’s Synagogue and Polei Tzedek to name a few) about how meaningful and joyous our event was.
We would like to thank Rabbi Werbow and Cantor Rosner for contributing so much to this event with their words and songs. We are so glad to be part of this kehilah kedosha.
Ilene, Jacob, Rafaela and Avi K., Congregants
Richard F., Congregant
December 10th, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a congregant at Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh. I hereby give a heartfelt endorsement of Cantor Ben Rosner, and I am pleased to recommend him for any cantor position for which he may apply.
Cantor Ben has led services beautifully, on holiday services as well as on Shabbat. I am a regular attendee of the evening minyan, and he has been stalwart in leading that service every day. In addition to his participation in these and many other things, he has been very gracious in encouraging congregants’ participation in things such as alternative minyanim that take place at Beth Shalom.
Cantor Ben has done a great job in organizing the Beth Shalom band and in organizing and leading the synagogue’s two choirs. He has worked tirelessly in teaching and leading these efforts. I have greatly enjoyed my participation in the two choirs.
The Cantor is a very friendly person and is a pleasure to interact with. He has increased the visibility of Beth Shalom in the community with events such as open mics/concerts at a local coffee shop.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide input in this regard. I wish Cantor Rosner good luck in his future endeavors.
Rabbi Cathy Felix
Feb 9th, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
I write to commend Ben Rosner as a Hazzan.
Ben worked for two years for the Jewish Center of Sussex County as our High Holy Day Hazzan. First, he has a beautiful voice. Our shul does not use a microphone, and he projected throughout the sanctuary. Throughout the long day of Yom Kippur, he sustained a strong voice. Our congregants were thrilled by his beautiful singing.
Second, he was easy to work with. He was very open to how we usually do things on the holidays. He was also terrific with timing: when we got to Neilah, I told him how much time was left, and he decided which optional pieces to include or skip so that we ended on the button. He taught new tunes from the Birnah, and reviewed old ones when the congregation did not seem able to follow him. It was a joy to partner with him.
Finally, he brought his own ideas and creativity to the congregation. He has written his own, original melodies to some of the prayers. He had creative ideas about presentation and teaching prayers, and insights about using English and Hebrew. The congregation was uniformly pleased with the new tunes and traditions that he introduced.
Based on my experiences working with Hazzan Rosner, I commend him highly.
Rabbi Cathy Felix