Contact Cantor Bernstein at [email protected].
Cantor Sharon Bernstein, a native of California, grew up in Palo Alto, where she frequented Conservative synagogue Kol Emet and graduated from Palo Alto High School. An avid musician from a young age, she studied piano and voice, performing in concerts, operas, and musicals through junior and high school. Her musical studies continued at the University of Redlands, where she graduated in Voice and Piano. While in college, she took an active role in the local Jewish community and Hillel, sparking an ever-growing interest in Jewish music and prayer. After graduating, she served as the High Holy Day cantor for Arizona State University, and then as part-time cantor for Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills and Congregation Sha’arei Torah in Arcadia while working for Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. as their International Sales Manager. During this time, she studied with local cantors, worked at her Hebrew, started writing music on Jewish themes, and became increasingly more interested in Jewish music and liturgy. Her life took a turn in 1999, when she enrolled in the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She spent a year in Jerusalem and the two following years in New York City. In 2002-2003 she devoted her last school-year to doing research for her MA Thesis (The Italian System for Chanting the Torah According to the Torino Tradition) and served as an instructor in Hazzanut for the JTS Cantorial program in Jerusalem.
Israel and Jerusalem proved extremely inspiring to her both in the discovery of the richness of the Jewish musical traditions and in the shaping of her parallel career as a Yiddish performer. Through the wondrous resources of the Hebrew National University, she has been able to learn melodies from a wide array of traditions – Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Italian, Hasidic – to teach and sing with the congregation, and to perform Yiddish songs which are little known.
As a Yiddish performer, she has presented in venues such as RAI National Italian Radio, the Ancona Klezmer Music Festival (Italy), the Center for Jewish History, the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, and Yung YiDish, Jerusalem; has taught in the Vilna Summer Yiddish Program and KlezCalifornia; and recorded several of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s songs on her album: Af di Gasn fun der Shtot.
Her compositions include ditties on Jewish themes (such as The Heir and the Hair), music for the synagogue, and settings for several Yiddish poems, and she has a particular love for teaching and mentoring folks of all ages.
She joined Sha’ar Zahav in 2007, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work and grow with such a warm, vibrant, and passionate community.