New cantor at Temple Israel of Great Neck

New cantor at Temple Israel of Great Neck
Picture Caption— Hazzan Brian Shamash will be formally installed as Temple Israel’s cantor at a Hanukkah concert on Sunday, December 5, at 4 p.m. The community is invited.

Temple Israel of Great Neck will formally install its new cantor, Hazzan Brian Shamash, during a gala Hanukkah concert for the community on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 4 p.m. It can also be seen on YouTube Live.

The installation will be celebrated with a Hanukkah concert Hazzan Shamash is organizing to mark the occasion, called “Light Together.”

Shamash said, “Our focus for Hanukkah 5782 is togetherness. The word ‘Hanukkah’ means rededication. After a time apart, we rededicate ourselves to coming together as a community. Each of the eight festive days presents an opportunity to be together using all the ways we can gather.”

Temple Israel President Burton Weston said, “In our concert and installation, we will celebrate the light of our very own ‘Shamash,’ who brings inspiration to our community through prayer, music and learning.”

The concert will include a long list of guest artists Hazzan Shamash has invited, as well as students from Great Neck’s Kulanu Religious School and Temple Israel’s Waxman High School, and a duet with his wife, Emily.

Shamash said the program will include music from multiple cultures, including some using ancient musical instruments. The formal installation ceremony will begin with blessings to be read by the congregation, followed by a response by Shamash, who will then sing the blessings.

The ceremony will also welcome the Shamash family, including their children, Ella, Maya and Ethan.

Hazzan Shamash grew up in Pikesville, outside of Baltimore. His father was originally from Baghdad and his mother came from Cedarhurst. He said by the sixth or seventh grade he realized he had musical ability and loved singing.

His bar mitzvah teacher, Hazzan Farid Dardashdi, who joined the Temple Israel clergy on the High Holy Days, served as his mentor. He once told Shamash: “One day you are going to be a hazzan too.”

There is no charge for the concert, but advance registration is requested. It can be made by calling Temple Israel at 482-7800 or visiting the congregation’s website,

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