After 23 years of service to our community, Cantor Elias Roochvarg will retire from Temple Israel on June 30. Cantor Roochvarg has been a member of Temple Israel’s Clergy Team since 1995, when he moved to Charlotte from Maryland with his wife Linda and young son Aaron. Cantor Roochvarg served as the Cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Owings Mills, Maryland, for 15 years prior to joining our community. Cantor Roochvarg and his family (including Miriam and Michael, who were both born in Charlotte on Sisterhood Shabbat in 1996) have been fixtures of the Temple Israel and greater Charlotte Jewish community and his retirement will bring with it a significant transition for the congregation.
During Cantor Roochvarg’s tenure at Temple Israel, he and Rabbi Murray Ezring have shared the pulpit for hundreds of life cycle events and thousands of Shabbat and holiday services. Rabbi Ezring remarked, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to share much of my professional career with Cantor Roochvarg. Together, we have guided Temple Israel’s families and our congregational community through times of awe, joy, and sadness.” While reflecting on Cantor Roochvarg’s contributions to Temple Israel, President Ron Weiner said, “Cantor Roochvarg is a special individual whose voice, sense of humor and passion for music will be greatly missed. We are thankful for his years of dedication to our community.”
Cantor Roochvarg shared that his favorite memories from his time at Temple Israel include, “… Becoming part of a big family and being welcomed into the family circle to participate in the highs and lows of life as a part of the family unit. There’s nothing quite like connecting with individuals during the most intimate pastoral moments and then being able to fulfill requests that are both personal and meaningful to those you’ve grown to care about deeply. Two examples of this that will always stay with me are singing ‘I Did It My Way’ at Sam Strause’s funeral and singing ‘My Yiddishe Mama’ in Yiddish at Rose Luski’s funeral.” Cantor Roochvarg also remembers with great fondness his experiences preparing students for B’nai Mitzvah. “I remember one particular student who was having trouble with a specific part in the service during his lessons in the weeks leading up to his Bar Mitzvah. The day of the rehearsal, I stepped towards the lectern prepared to correct him and he held up his hand to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, Cantor. I got this.’ That was a great moment,” Cantor Roochvarg recalled. When asked what he wishes for Temple Israel after he retires, Cantor Roochvarg shared, “I hope that Temple Israel will have as long and happy of a relationship with my successor that I have had.”
To thank Cantor Roochvarg for his decades of service and pay tribute to his contributions to our community, Temple Israel will host a Celebration Weekend in his honor June 15-17. Planning for these retirement festivities has been co-chaired by Peggy Gartner and Margi Goldstein, both of whom wanted to show Cantor Roochvarg how appreciative Temple Israel is for the many years he has shared his gifts with us. Peggy said, “Cantor Roochvarg has trained hundreds of B’nai Mitzvah students during his tenure at Temple Israel and helped to prepare some of our adult members for their B’nai Mitzvah experiences. He has been a fixture on our bimah for many years and we will miss his presence and participation in our services.” Margi added, “Through his encouragement, many of us have become regular Torah readers and love being a part of our Shabbat services. In addition, ‘Cantor and Friends’ has been a wonderful way for Cantor Roochvarg to share his knowledge about and passion for Jewish and secular music with thousands of adults in the Jewish community.”
Celebration Weekend events will include a special Friday evening service followed by a cocktail reception and delicious Shabbat dinner (reservations required), a Shabbat morning service to honor the Cantor followed by a bountiful Kiddush luncheon, and a Sunday afternoon concert and dessert reception. The concert will feature two new, original Cantor Roochvarg parody songs in anticipation of his retirement. It is sure to be a special weekend filled with love and laughter. Visit templeisraelnc.org for details, to make reservations for weekend events or to make a donation in honor of Cantor Roochvarg.