Mifgash Musicale, a unique collaboration between HUC-JIR, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Guild of Temple Musicians, was held in Cincinnati from July 27-31, 2008. This intensive Jewish Music seminar, now in its ninth year, educates synagogue musicians with basic fundamental knowledge about worship in the synagogue. Program themes are on a three-year cycle: Shabbat, High Holidays, and Major and Minor Holidays of the Jewish Year, and include classes on liturgy, repertoire, cantillation, conducting, and keyboarding. Professor Bonia Shur of HUC-JIR/Cincinnati was the initiator of the first program in 2000 and has continued to be an annual presence. HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Professor Rabbi Richard Sarason, Ph.D., is the resident Liturgical Scholar. HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Professor Cantor Yvon Shore partners closely with Cantor Alane S. Katzew, Director of Music Programming at the URJ, and both serve on Mifgash Musicale faculty.
Each year a different composer is highlighted - this year Ben Steinberg was on the faculty. New to Mifgash Musicale faculty this year was Cantor Bruce Ruben, Director of the School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR/NY, who taught a workshop on Jewish Music History, in addition to repertoire sessions.
Cantor Andrew Bernard was conducting specialist and representative of the ACC. Dr. Jayson Rodovsky, President of the GTM and Editor of Transcontinental Music Publications, and Dr. Alan Mason were accompanists and faculty presenters. This year's participants come from all over North America - from as far as Hawaii, Winnipeg, New Orleans, and Ottawa.
Cantor Katzew, who spearheads the program and develops the content of the program each year, said, "The intimate size of the program - with participants and staff, we numbered 46 - allows for significant interaction between faculty and participants. It also generates a tight community network for synagogue musicians from out-of-the-way places - often laboring a lone musical voice or instrument in their home congregations. The majority of our participants come from small congregations with under 250 families where the community resources are limited."