June 4, 2017 ❘ 10th of Sivan, 5777

Friends and Fellow Congregants,

Few congregations are blessed to enjoy more than 50 years with their cantor. For the last five decades, Cantor Barry Reich has been PTS’ chazzan, choral director, and b’nai mitzvah teacher — an immeasurable and essential part of our community. Many b’nai mitzvah students have been the second generation in their families to have studied with Cantor Barry, and his warmth on the bimah has been a constant presence throughout much of our congregation’s history. His voice, his kind heart, his learning, and his musical soul have been sources of strength and inspiration.

This morning at the Annual Meeting, Cantor Barry shared the news that he will retire on July 1, 2018. At that time, he will continue his service to the congregation as cantor emeritus. We are immensely grateful for Cantor Barry’s enormous role in building the PTS we know today and thrilled he will continue as a vital part of our congregation.

Next week’s Torah portion is Beha’alotecha, which includes a description of the process for Levites, who served in the Tent of Meeting, to retire. The Torah says that while those who retire set aside their heavy labor, they remain part of the community and hold a special role and place of honor. Ovadiah ben Abraham of Bartenura (1445-1515) teaches that those who retired continued to serve the community with wise counsel. We are indebted to Cantor Barry for his wisdom and strength, both throughout his time as cantor and in his future role as cantor emeritus.

Cantor Barry will continue with his regular duties for the next year, both on the bimah and with b’nai mitzvah families. Soon, the clergy will reach out to families whose b’nai mitzvah are scheduled after June 30, 2018 to share plans regarding preparation. And, as we work over the next year to identify and transition to a new cantor, we will communicate regularly about the process with the congregation.

Right now, however, we are excited for the many opportunities we’ll have this year to properly thank, honor, and appreciate Cantor Barry. In particular, we hope that you will mark Saturday, May 5, 2018 on your calendar for a gala to celebrate our cantor and to share with him what he means to each of us.

Lauren Schlezinger, President
Rabbi Dan Feder