After serving as Palm Beach Temple Emanu-El cantor and musical director since 1986, David Feuer will leave this spring.
Feuer, 76, has been dedicated to synagogue prayer services for 35 years. Like his baritone voice, he established a “deep and rich” musical history and created a spiritual experience for the congregation, said synagogue president Dr. Steven Horowitz.
“For more than half of the temple’s existence, (Feuer) has been an integral part of prayer services at Temple Emanu-El,” said Horowitz, who noted the place of worship. will be 60 this year.
Originally from Argentina, Feuer told the Daily News on Wednesday that he was not fluent in English when he began his duties as a cantor at the synagogue. The former synagogue president, Dr. Richard Lynn, however, assured him that the language barrier would not hamper his service or hamper his musical talents.
And it is not.
Over the years, Feuer said he has seen the house of worship grow in popularity and attract people from across the country.
“I brought a different style of cantorial that was with a Latin flavor. People could participate. They were dancing. It was an amazing experience,” said Feuer, who noted that even in a mask he could tell the congregation was smiling as they enjoyed the music inspired by Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
“The congregation was open to any new ideas I brought, and I enjoyed every second.”
His last day as Cantor of Temple Emanu-El is April 30. Cantor Meir Finkelstein will take his place.
“I am leaving now after 35 years. I am leaving with happiness. I do not regret for a second to leave, and to pass my chair to a great, great cantor and composer.”
Horowitz said he believed divine intervention had blessed the congregation in the transition.
Earlier this month, Finkelstein, who has previously been invited to the synagogue, learned of the vacancy and contacted Feuer to find out more. His appointment was announced last week.
“Even though the quality of their voices is not the same, their musical experience and spiritual way in which they lead a congregation parallels that of other cantors across the country,” Horowitz said.
A look back: A Brief History of Temple Emanu-El
Over the decades:Highlights of Palm Beach’s First 110 Years
Meet the new cantor of Temple Emanu-El
When he was just 14, Finkelstein became Europe’s youngest cantor and since then has become one of the world’s foremost cantors and composers of contemporary Jewish liturgical music, Horowitz said.
Prior to his reappointment, Finkelstein, 70, was cantor at several prominent synagogues across the country, the most recent being Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston.
Born in Israel, he grew up in England, where he graduated from the Royal College of Music with a degree in voice, composition and piano. Her late father, Zvi Finkelstein, who was a cantor in England.
Meir Finkelstein has also served as cantor at Congregation Beth Hillel in Wilmette, Illinois, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Congregation Beth Tzedec in Toronto, and Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan.
Today, Finkelstein’s series of more than 150 compositions are performed in temples around the world, including Temple Emanu-El, where his most famous pieces, “L’Dor Vader” and “V’al Kulam”, are sung every week.
Finkelstein’s work has been featured in television programs, films and documentaries such as “Dallas”, “The Magic Flute” and “Survivors of the Holocaust”.
“I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing the position is moving forward with one of the most skilled and experienced cantors in the country,” Horowitz said.
The new appointment doesn’t mean Feuer will be “out of sight, out of mind.” Rather, he will become the synagogue’s cantor emeritus and help Finkelstein with services over the next year, Horowitz said.
Feuer said he plans to spend more time with family and friends in California, Israel and Argentina.
Maybe, he says, he’ll learn photography or join a choir, as he first did when he was 4 years old.
“[It’s nice] just to be part of a group. I was a conductor before becoming a cantor and I know the joys of singing with 20, 30 or 100 people,” he said. “It’s basically my life. The music, the family and my friends.”