Cantor Emil Berkovits
Cantor Emil was the first cantor at Shirat Hayam and played an insturmental role in the merger of the 2 former synagogues. Born into a family where the tradition of becoming a cantor was passed on from one generation to another as a legacy. Emil, along with his brother Edward follow in the footsteps of their father Gabriel, and three previous generations who were all established cantors. Following World War II, as a child, Emil immigrated to Canada with his family. Educated in Montreal, and studied music at McGill University - Conservatory of Music and worked with several great voices locally. He attended and later instructed at Mishkan Tefillah Academy's Cantorial School. He also attended Sir George Williams College where he studied business administration. At an early age he became well known as a child soloist, appearing at many concerts with some of the most famous cantors of our time, sang in several operas as well as the "Yiddish theater" with Maurice Schwartz, and later with his father and brother performed in concert throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel. He writes much of his own music as needed and to quote one of innumerable audience, be it services or casual singing, "the sound of his pure tenor tones make one wish the evening never end", truly describes Cantor Berkovits' love for his calling. Cantor Emil Berkovits held positions in Chicago, Illinois; Montreal, Canada; Omaha, Nebraska and in 2004 arrived in Swampscott to serve Temple Israel and found himself in the process of a merger between Temple Israel and Temple Beth El that became Congregation Shirat Hayam. During his years here, Cantor Berkovits has led several successful tours to Israel and created Kol Ishah a ladies' chorus established and Musical Kabbalat Shabbat service that has become a staple with much of the congregation and continues his love of teaching and preparing both young and old for their B'nai Mitzvah. Since August 2011 he became a staple with much of the congregation active cantor emeritus. He is a member of the Cantors Assembly of America, where he received his commission in 1985 and in 1994, was designated as honorary Fellow of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary and has received his Doctor of Music degree honoris causa from the Jewish Theological Seminary.Cantor Emil retired in 2014 and is enjoying life in Florida where he continues to stay in touch with his CSH family.