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Natan Berenshteyn,
Music Director and Accompanist

“In the Jewish tradition,” Natan Berenshteyn says, “without music, there is no service. Jewish services are not read—they’re chanted.”

Bringing the musical tradition of our ancestors into worship services is precisely what Berenshteyn does as the music director for Beth Ahabah. “I am involved in everything that has the word music in it,” he says.

It takes a lot of scheduling and logistics—and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. He helps the Cantor plan the “musical menu” for services that feature the children’s choir, adult volunteer choir, and the professional choir, and ensures that everyone has their music in hand when it’s time to start practicing.

But music at Beth Ahabah includes much more than weekly and holiday services. Take the synagogue’s annual Purim Spiel production. “That is a two-month project where people meet and put the show together,” he says. “Members of Beth Ahabah write the script, and all of the music goes through me, as well as auditions, and the schedule. In reality, it’s a 12-month effort, but the majority of the work goes on behind the scenes.”

While producing everything from a Shabbat service to a special event requires a great deal of work behind the scenes, it’s Berenshteyn’s job to make sure the congregation never sees that.

“When you walk into temple on Friday evening, it’s on,” he says. “It needs to look seamless and effortless, even though it’s not seamless and it’s not effortless.”

Berenshteyn has a bachelor’s degree in music education, focusing on choral music, and a master’s degree in music performance, concentrating on classical piano, both from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to his work at Beth Ahabah, he also teaches full time at Atlee High School in Hanover County.

Tue, May 28 2024 20 Iyar 5784