Cantor Joshua Finkel named spiritual leader of Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community

Cantor Joshua Finkel has joined Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community as its new spiritual leader.  Finkel’s first official day was July 1. He succeeds Rabbi Lane Steinger, who retired in June 2016 and continues to participate in the congregation as Rabbi Emeritus.

This is a homecoming for Finkel, who is a native St. Louisan (Parkway North High School).  Prior to joining Shir Hadash, he was the cantor at congregations in Ohio and New Jersey, where he also gained experience in providing pastoral care, leading Torah and text study, creating special worship services, and in engaging congregants of all ages.

Finkel earned his Master of Sacred Music degree and received his cantorial ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in 2014. He is an award-winning composer of worship music in a variety of styles.  In 2015 he was named to the Jewish Daily Forward’s “Soundtrack of Our Spirit: 21 Jewish Voices That Move Us” for his composition “Jerusalem.” 

Shir Hadash, like many Reconstructionist congregations, encourages and empowers its members to take an active role in leading worship and learning.  “Our spiritual leaders serve more as guides and facilitators,” explained Shir Hadash President Dave Zuckerman.  “Cantor Josh’s engaging personality, many talents and leadership style are ideal for us.”  

Finkel, likewise, is thrilled to be a part of Shir Hadash. “Throughout my time getting to know Shir Hadash, I’ve been so impressed by the incredible lay leadership and the welcoming and participatory services and discussions we have,” he explained.  “Our commitment to exploring our Jewishness, our souls, our traditions, and our ethical responsibilities to the world is expressed warmly and thoughtfully each time we gather.”

A return home to St. Louis also gives Finkel and his spouse, Emily Barth, an opportunity to raise their children Sophia, 5, and Jakob, 2, near grandparents, extended family and friends.

Shir Hadash meets most Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. in the Beit Midrash of the Jewish Community Center’s Mirowitz Performing Arts Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive.  Shabbat morning services are held on the second and fourth Shabbat of each month.  The third and occasional fifth Shabbat mornings are devoted to learning and discussion. The first Shabbat of each month is celebrated with a communal Friday night potluck dinner and discussion in a member’s home.

Shir Hadash is the only Reconstructionist community in the St. Louis area. This branch of Judaism takes a progressive, modern approach to Jewish living that integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life.  

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