EMANUEL Synagogue’s George Mordecai has been a dedicated cantor for more than 25 years, and last Tuesday he was able to add the title rabbi to his name, achieving a lifelong dream.
The synagogue’s clergy gathered around him during an emotional ordination ceremony conducted virtually by the US-based ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal, of which he was one of 10 members of the latest cohort from around the world to be receiving s’micha (ordination) after years of study.
“I am overjoyed,” Rabbi Mordecai said, before thanking everyone who helped him work towards his “s’micha dream through the good times and when the going got tough”.
These included his family, Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg – who first introduced him to the ALEPH community and the Jewish Renewal stream – his US-based close mentor Rabbi Miles Krassen, and all his colleagues at Emanuel Synagogue.
Rabbi Mordecai said his Judeo-Iraqi heritage and upbringing, where he was, “first blessed to experience the transformative power of tefillah and devotional singing”, still drives and inspires him every day in his continuing role as the shule’s cantor, and as a co-founder of The Circle, a group that meets weekly to further explore Torah insights through study, song, dance and meditation.
“It is my hope that the liturgical music of my culture will find its place in congregations and world music stages … I strongly believe that these chants have something important and meaningful to contribute,” Mordecai said.
“My road to s’micha has been a continuation and deepening of my clergy work in synagogues that began professionally from the early ’90s.
“I look forward to applying what I have learned … to help inspire all interested seekers to engage deeply.
“I am eternally grateful to you all.”
Emanuel Synagogue’s congregation is planning to hold its own celebratory event for Rabbi Mordecai in August.