Andrew Bernard served as cantor at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC from 1999 to 2017. Under his leadership, the synagogue launched a number of nationally-recognized initiatives including the b’nei mitzvah peer tutoring program, the teen band and teen vocal ensemble, and a comprehensive human sexuality program known as STAR (Sex, Torah, and Relationships). While engaged in many aspects of congregational life, Cantor Bernard’s focus was creating innovative, engaging, and meaningful worship, and working with youth. As the congregation’s longest-serving clergyperson, Cantor Bernard was a teacher and mentor to students in grades 3–12 and beyond for 18 years. Upon his retirement, the congregation recognized Cantor Bernard’s work by renaming the youth engagement fund in his honor.
Cantor Bernard earned undergraduate degrees in piano performance and pre-med from Oberlin College and the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and his masters and doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Washington where he was a student of Abraham Kaplan. His doctoral research on Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony earned him national recognition. He was ordained as a cantor and awarded the Master of Sacred Music degree from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR in 1998.
Cantor Bernard trained as a hospital chaplain at New York Hospital, NYU Medical Center, and was a resident in clinical pastoral education at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as Chaplain Specialist at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte from 2005 to 2017. A member of Carolinas HealthCare system’s pastoral care advisory group from 2001 to 2017, Cantor Bernard was the voice for Jewish religious and cultural values in the department of spiritual care and education.
Before entering seminary in 1994, Andrew was a professional musician in Seattle holding various positions as music director, conductor and soloist in congregations and community organizations including Temple De Hirsch Sinai, First United Methodist Church and the Community Sing-Along Messiah. He was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Pro Musica Singers and Chamber Orchestra from 1980-1985. He has been an active participant in many professional, community and charitable organizations.
Cantor Bernard is the author of The Sound of Sacred Time: A basic textbook to teach the Synagogue modes. The textbook, available from the author, has been distributed worldwide and used in at seminaries in the U.S. and Europe. His Spring 2007 interview on the Kaddish in Reform Judaism Magazine initiated that publication’s series on music and liturgy.
Cantor Bernard contributed to, among others, the synagogue music curriculum Divrei Shir, Worship Music: a concise dictionary, and the URJ website supporting Mishkan T’filah. His liturgical compositions have been published by Transcontinental Music and Synagogue 2000. Cantor Bernard has been a member of the Reform movement’s Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living since 1995, serving as a vice-chair from 2005-2014. He was conductor of the 2005 URJ Biennial Choir and guest conductor of the Atlanta Jewish Choral Festival in 2002 and 2005. In 2010, Cantor Bernard traveled to Brazil under the auspices of the World Union for Progressive Judaism where he served as clinician at Lashir Benefesh in Porto Alegre and traveled throughout the country leading workshops, concerts, and worship services. He also served on the faculty of the North American Jewish Choral Festival and Mifgash Musicale, and was adjunct faculty at Hebrew Union College, teaching in the cantorial certification program. Cantor Bernard is a member of the American Conference of Cantors, which honored him with its inaugural President’s Award for Volunteerism in 2008.
Having returned to his beloved Seattle, Cantor Bernard is pursuing his twin passions of swimming and coffee.