There will be a new face on the bimah this summer as Emily Short joins Congregation Beth Emeth as its new cantor.
Short, who expects to be ordained this spring, has earned master’s degrees in sacred music and Jewish non-profit management. She will replace Cantor Sharon Kohn on July 1. Kohn was hired as an interim cantor in 2020 because of the illness of the late Cantor Jodi Schechtman.
“I am excited to share new music and meaningful prayer experiences with our Beth Emeth family,” Short said in an e-mail. “As the sole Reform cantor of the Capital District, I’m grateful for the chance to serve the Greater Albany Jewish community. I love being a cantor because I’m able to be with people at all lifecycle points— their happiest moments, their saddest moments, and everything in between. What a gift!”
For the last two years, Short has served as the cantorial intern at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where she worked with Beth Emeth’s Co-Senior Rabbi Greg Weitzman when he was associate rabbi there.
“When I found out that there was a cantorial position at Beth Emeth with Rabbi Weitzman, I immediately applied. … We have a wonderful work partnership and I knew he was the kind of rabbi I wanted to start my career standing on the bimah with,” she said.
Weitzman, who served on the search committee, said: “I am very excited to welcome Cantor Emily Short to join the team at Congregation Beth Emeth. Cantor Short’s experience, voice, and spirit made her selection to serve our historic congregation an easy and obvious choice. I have had the pleasure to work alongside Cantor Short previously in New York City, and I know her passion and commitment to Jewish life, her ability to connect to members of all ages, and her euphonious voice will inspire and move our community for many years to come. I cannot wait to have to my friend and colleague join us in the Capital Region.”
The search for a new cantor began last year, shortly after Weitzman came to Albany as the successor to Senior Rabbi Scott Shpeen, who will become rabbi emeritus as of July 1.
Robin Sobol, who has been co-chairwoman of the selection committee with Mary Ann Cooper, said that there were more than a dozen applicants. The committee invited three to Albany to visit, and two, including Short, came. She was the hands-down choice, Sobol said, praising her fine voice and her energy and enthusiasm.
Congregants had the chance to hear Short in person at the Shabbat service on March 17 as she joined with Weitzman and Kohn for a hymn.
Short is the first Hebrew Union College cantorial student to graduate with dual master’s degrees in music and management. She also has a background in musical theater, graduating magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College with a major in theater and minors in music and Jewish studies. She worked as development director at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, known for its successful off-Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish. Short has indicated that a favorite memory is playing Chava in the original staged reading that led to the show.
A native of San Diego, Short grew up at Temple Solel there. In addition to Rodeph Shalom, she served as a cantorial intern as Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, NY, Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook, NY, and the Aspen Jewish Congregation in Colorado.
She describes herself as “an avid reader, lover of animals and frequent attendee of live theatre.” While leaving New York City, she wrote, is “bittersweet,” she and her wife are looking forward to their new life in the Capital Region.
“Albany feels like the perfect place for us to grow our family and settle our roots,” Short added. “We’re so excited to be moving here this summer!”