One hundred people, including youth and longtime members, attended the Congregation Beth Emeth service on Friday, July 7, as Cantor Emily Short led her first erev Shabbat service there. Her ascension to the Beth Emeth bimah marked the completion of a two-year transition to new leadership at the congregation.

She joins Senior Rabbi Greg Weitzman, who had spent the last year working with now-retired Scott Shpeen, rabbi emeritus.

Cantor Emily Short, left, with her wife, Frankie Short.

Friday night felt like a dream! It is such a gift to start your first job working alongside a colleague whom you respect and call friend,” Short wrote in a recent e-mail. “I’m so grateful for the chance to lead with Rabbi Weitzman and help shape this next chapter of Beth Emeth’s illustrious history!” Beth Emeth is the fourth oldest Reform congregation in the United States.

Short first got to know Weitzman at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, where he was associate rabbi and she was a cantorial intern. Weitzman has joked that they now view the Upper West Side synagogue as “Beth Emeth South.” She was ordained this spring and earned dual master’s degrees from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion —in sacred music and Jewish non-profit management.

Her voice, which drew praise from those at the service, reveals her background in musical theater. Short, a native of San Diego (Temple Solel), came east to attend Muhlenberg College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in theater, minoring in music and Jewish studies. Heading to New York, she worked at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene as the company’s development manager. While there, she performed the role of Chava in the original stage-reading of the Yiddish-language “Fiddler on the Roof,: which went on to become an Off-Broadway hit.

For her opening hymn on July 7, Short chose “Ozi V’Zimrat Yah, and worshippers joined enthusiastically with her. She ended the service with the Shehecheyanu, the traditional blessing of thanks for a new experience.

Following the service, congregants enjoyed a barbecue oneg of sliders and trimmings, prepared by the congregation’s brotherhood as they mingled and got to meet Short and her wife, Frankie, who works as an American Sign Language translator.

The congregation also is holding a series of informal “meet and greets” during the summer for members to get acquainted with the couple. Short said, “So far, we are liking Albany even more than we expected to! It is a huge shift from the chaos of Manhattan to the ‘Smalbany’ experience, but this was what we were looking for in the next chapter of our lives. We are pleasantly surprised by the convenience of everything being 15 minutes away from what you need, the ease and comfort of living, and the wonderful community around us.” The couple is renting a house in Loudonville.

Short added that she is looking forward to integrating into the community. “Beth Emeth has such deep and established roots, so I’m excited to spend quite a bit of time listening and learning from our team and our congregants about this amazing place,” she said. “With time, I’ll be excited to share some of my passions for social justice advocacy work, connecting with, and expanding our 20s/30s programming, and bringing new musical life into the community.”