The small synagogue I grew up in Oswego, NY, would have many leaders, Rabbis and Cantors over the time I was growing up, each one bringing with him his own special “flavor” from where he was from. It dawned on me years later that all the events that happen in our life, all the people we meet, all the jobs we do and all the mitzvot we complete, etc… make us into the person we have become today.
Over the years, part of my spiritual journey included, Jewish summer camps, assisting in holiday services including High Holidays, teaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, leading a small congregation in Gardena, CA and being a layperson in Orange County’s largest Conservative Synagogue. In 2008 I began a new journey to become an official Cantor and in 2017 received my S’micha from the Academy for Jewish Religion California. Throughout this time I have had the opportunity to share my learning with Congregation Beth Shalom Corona. CBS and I can say we went to school together for 9 years.
I am blessed with a wonderful family. My wife Marcy of over 30 years has supported my dream to become a Cantor and has always encouraged me to achieve my goals. She is also involved in the Jewish Community working with an organization called the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC). The goal of that organization is to bring Jewish programs that don’t currently exist to both affiliated and unaffiliated Jews. Our son Matt is the co-owner of a Karate Studio in Mission Viejo and our daughter in-law Amanda helps find jobs for people in the IT world. When they are not at their jobs they volunteer with the USY youth organization. Our daughter Molly works with Hillel helping connect Jewish students at Cal Berkeley to programs that will help keep them engaged with their Jewish identity. Our family has always found it important to find ways to give back to our community and help others find ways to enjoy their Jewish lives.
It has been an honor and privilege to have been chosen to lead Congregation Beth Shalom since 2009. In Parsha Vayikra, Moses is humbled when he comes near the newly completed (portable) Tabernacle and is not allowed to enter it. God reassured him that although the Tent was holy and had to be treated with reverence, it existed to benefit Israel. I know that during this coming year, we will continue to grow and learn together through our amazing programming and continued love from the entire congregation.
As our congregation celebrates its 50th year of service to the Riverside County and surrounding community, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, those who represent and serve us today, and look towards the future with hope.
I look forward to our continued growth together on this wonderful journey of life!
Cantor Bruce Shapiro