As the month of July begins, Beth Shir Shalom, a Reform Synagogue and Congregation in Santa Monica, California, known as the “Home of the Song of Peace,” welcomes Richard Bessman as he assumes the new role of Cantor and Religious Education Director. He is the successful candidate from a nationwide search that engaged American Conference of Cantors and National Association of Temple Educators placement services.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, community leader and spiritual leader of Beth Shir Shalom, commented, “Our community is filled with joy to add the talents and enthusiasm of Cantor Richard Bessman to our wonderful family at Beth Shir Shalom.”
Cantor Richard Bessman describes his admiration for the text and music of Judaism to the great works of Bach and Shakespeare. He relishes the challenge of teaching the richness of Jewish traditions and spiritual texts to children and adults. To him, music is the “hook” that connects people to Judaism.
On July 3, Cantor Richard will lead the Congregation’s Friday night observances of Shabbat is a “Picnic” that begins at 5:30 p.m. The official open-house Shabbat welcoming Cantor Richard will be on August 7, at 5:30 p.m. For both of these celebrations, the “Gan” (outdoor garden and gathering space) will be set up for congregants to bring their dinners and eat al fresco at 5:30 p.m. with the Shabbat Services beginning at 6:30 pm. Throughout July, all Shabbat Services will have activities for children led by Beth Shir Shalom Early Childhood Center teachers. These events take place at Beth Shir Shalom, 1827 California Avenue, Santa Monica, California (at California Ave. and 19th Street).
The addition of Cantor Richard to the Clergy and Senior Staff team completes the leadership of the three organizational pillars of Beth Shir Shalom — Spirituality, Religious Education and Early Childhood Center. Prior to accepting this position, Richard Bessman served for four years in a similar position at Temple Judea Mizpah in Skokie, Illinois. Bessman graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, New York, with Master of Sacred Music and Certificate of Hazzan and Master of Arts in Jewish Education with honors.