SPRINGFIELD – Temple Beth El will dedicate its sanctuary in honor of Cantor Morton Shames at a special event on Sunday, June 14 from 3 – 5:30 p.m. at the synagogue.
The event will feature a musical tribute as well as a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception. This event was originally scheduled for last November, but had to be postponed due to illness. The entire community is invited to attend to celebrate this important milestone in the life of Cantor Shames, who has devoted his entire career to Temple Beth El.
Cantor Shames’ love of music and of Judaism has inspired the congregation for years. Even in retirement, he never wanted to move away, and continues to work on behalf of the congregation.
Cantor Shames earned his B.A. in Voice and an M.A. in Musicology from Boston University. He was ordained in the first class from the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in 1955, and accepted the position as cantor and musical director of Temple Beth El that same year. He spent his entire career at the synagogue, where he embraces his role as pastor, teacher, friend, and musician.
Cantor Shames served as both president of the Cantors Assembly and its chairman of placement. He has performed on National Public Television in “A Taste of Chanukah” with the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and returned year after year as soloist with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra at its annual Holiday Pops concert. He has had solo recitals throughout the country, and traveled with opera impresario Sarah Caldwell to Russia.
Cantor Shames and his wife, Frances, have been honored by many community organizations for their involvement and support. They were among the founders of the Community Music School in Springfield. Since his retirement in 2002, Cantor Shames has continued to bring the appreciation of Jewish music to the community, and is a beloved fixture in our area.
“Cantor Shames is a true Beth El treasure,” said TBE President Paul Farkas. “For decades he has led us, individually and collectively, through troubles and triumphs, happiness and sadness. A true visionary, he continues to inspire us and teach us and imagine ways to change and find a new vibrancy in the future.”
The program honoring Cantor Morton Shames will be held Sunday, June 14 from 3-5:30 p.m. The couvert is $18 per person if reservations are made by June 1, which includes a 3-line tribute in a keepsake gift for Cantor Shames. After June 1, the cost is $25 and does not include a greeting. Those who are unable to attend, but would like to have a greeting in the keepsake gift, can do so for an $18 donation. Sponsorships are available at the following levels: Maestro—$500; Chorus—$360; and Orchestra—$180. Underwriters will receive two tickets to the event, and will be acknowledged in the program. For more information, contact Rhoda Peskin at Temple Beth El, (413) 733-4149.