Temple Avodah, Oceanside NY

However you define your family,
we welcome you to ours

The Avodah Choirs

Temple Avodah’s Adult Choir

The ” Best Choir in the Universe ,” (as lovingly named by Rabbi Philmore Berger of blessed memory), meets for choir practice on most every Thursday evenings from 7:30-9 PM. It combines song with worship, creating a meaningful experience that enhances services at Temple and our own Jewish lives. Rehearsing and singing with it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. All Temple Members or prospective members are free to check us out and join us on any Thursday night that we are meeting.. You do not have to read music or have a background in singing. Your desire to sing and willingness to rehearse with us is all that you need.

As stated by Choir members:
“Over the years we have become a family. We sing at simchas of colleagues, enjoy choir dinners and picnics, and view one another as extended family. With Rabbi Goren’s staunch support we sing at Temple events such as High Holidays, major festivals, High School Graduation and Installation of Temple Officers. We sing once a month at Erev Shabbat services. We have participated in jazz festivals, an “Echad” service, Purim spiels, numerous choir festivals and programs at nursing homes.”

Historic Audio Tape

Click on the link below to hear the first Temple Avodah Choir singing with Betty Robbins, our first Cantor. Sadly the choir did not continue until 1983 when the current choir was formed.

The tape was created and saved by Victor (Vic) Lourie, the original choir master at Temple Avodah. He was instrumental in the establishment of the choir. He was a music (piano and organ) teacher throughout Long Island in the 60’s and 70’s and played Hammond organ at several restaurants during the late 60’s and 70’s. His son Ira found the tape and kept it for us.


The Temple Avodah Choir performs as part of the LI CHOIR FESTIVAL on Sunday April 30, 2017.
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Temple Avodah Choir *

Temple Avodah Choir *

The six Long Island Choirs gather together to perform. **

The Temple Avodah Adult Choir at the 2016 Long Island Choir Festival


Temple Avodah Choir

Social Activities of the Choir

Not only does the choir assist the Temple by singing at services and for the High Holidays, it also has created a rich social calendar that transforms these singers into a Temple-based extended family. Annual picnics, Chanukah parties, End-of-Season dinners, Interfaith Services, and Mitzvah Day singing all add to the warmth and joy of choir memebrship for new members as well as the old. The choir has sung at member’s bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and sadly, funerals too.

A wonderful evening of music and song from portions of the Temple Avodah Junior Choir and Senior Choir


At Temple Avodah’s 60th Anniversary Choir Concert, Music Through the Years, members of the Senior and Junior Choir performed for a sanctuary filled with members, music, memory and love.

Temple Avodah’s Junior and Teen Choirs

The Temple Avodah Junior and Teen Choirs accept students from 3rd grade through high school. Cantorial Singer Jessica Gubenko has assembled the largest and most enthusiastic group of teenagers and young singers to form choirs and ensembles of young voices. The effect is electrifying as each year they conduct their Concert and Awards night. The choir sings throughout the year including at several Friday night Erev Shabbat services, including our famous Rock Shabbat Service, which uses electric guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. They also sign for Chanukah and Purim, as well as doing a special mitzvah and sing at a Jewish nursing home in Long Beach. The Junior choir meets on Monday evenings when Religious School is in session from 6:30 until 7:15 pm. They begin with a pizza dinner for the first 10 minutes or so, then sing for the rest of the time. The Teen Choir meets Tuesdays at 5:30 to 6:00 pm before the 7th grade classes and before the Kesher Kev Hebrew High School. The repertoire is mostly music for the Sabbath service. They learn Chanukah songs, song parodies for Purim, and learn new songs for Rock Shabbat and the nursing home performance, as well as an end of year concert. This is a great way for your child to learn the prayers for the service which they will need for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, as well as for their Jewish lives. They will also get to socialize with other Jewish children of all ages from the religious school, and be able to take pride in singing. Contact our Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko for further information about how participating in our Junior and Teen Choirs. You can also view and hear some of the Junior and Teen Choirs beautiful service performances on our Shabbat and Holidays pages.


Temple Avodah’s Junior and Teen Choirs do Passover medleys using the music of Les Mis, Coming Home and Forget You.


Our Junior and Teen Choirs
add to the spirit and song of
our Rock Shabbat Services.Click here for photos and videos of our many Shabbat Services.

Our Junior and Teen Choir perform at our famous Rock Shabbat Service.
Be sure to watch a beautiful multi-part Haskieveinu led by our teen choir.


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Over 300 people came together
for a special Shabbat service
and celebration of Chanukah at
Temple Avodah in Oceanside NY.
Prayers and Chanukah songs led by our
Junior and Teen Choirs under the direction
of Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko
with music by Schleppenwolf,
otherwise known as the
volunteer musicians of Temple Avodah.
Chanukkah, 2015.

Temple Avodah Choir History

A choir history as related by choir member Ed Fried:

I remember the first rehearsal called for the new Temple Avodah Volunteer choir. It was held in the evening, on a day we were preparing for our annual bazaar. I was working my way, slowly, down to the rehearsal room when I met Dave. He and I exchanged pleasantries and together walked into the room. Here we joined that handful of stalwarts who became the new choir. Most of us had not sung in a group for a long time- for me it was since college – and we had great concerns about our ability to perform. Judy Rowland, however, just pushed ahead and we were singing in unison within a short time. It was the beginning of what has become a marvelous 18 years.

The choir was organized by Cantor Judy Rowland, our first full time cantor, in 1982. Those early rehearsals, starting in the Winter of 1982 were filled with organization and the learning of new music. Many of us had some previous musical experiences, but others had nothing but the desire to sing. Cantor Rowland gave us the incentive and courage to participate. When Cantor announced that we would do a concert at the end of that first year – we were in a state of panic. I remember Alan looking at me and smiling that “Oh my G-d” look. We did our practicing and the concert went well. We were all happy.

Even Jeff Schindler, our organist, was happy. Jeff is the man, as Caryle recollects, who spent more time looking for girls to date but was never too successful. I recall him spending almost as much time reading magazines about horses and horse racing. He always had a problem with the alto section, which he called ” altoids “. Many of our activities, such as the Purim spiel were started by Cantor Rowland. When Cantor Rowland left Temple, we hired Karen Braunstein, who brought her interests in Klezmer, folk music and Yiddish music to the Temple and choir. New music was introduced and we expanded our musical knowledge and repertoire. I remember the joy of attending Karen’s wedding to Cantor Paul – held outdoors at Temple. Do you remember how Karen dressed at Purim spiels and the Yiddish/Klezmer concert she gave at Temple? It was quite unique.

Gershon Sillins may have been the most quotable of our cantors. Bob kept a book of his statements for many years. A few choice sayings and explanations “if you had a choice between laissez faire and a controlled economy-you would pick laissez faire” [this means that we, the choir, like to do whatever we want without following directions] and “when we get to this section, I feel lonely. Only you can change that” [ this means – connect to me, especially at this place in the music]. Gershon is the one who developed our exercise lines, as part of warm-up activities. We learned to give back rubs to one another as a form of loosening-up activity. It was also Gerson who arranged for choir members to go to New Jersey to participate in a workshop/songfest with other congregational choirs.

When Gershon left, we hired Ron Broden, who remained with us for 7 years, the longest tenure of any cantor up to this time. Ron brought a new, fresh perspective to choir. Much new music was introduced and we expanded on our participation with other Temple choirs. Barry recalls some of Ron’s statements, such as “no breathing”, “look up”, “not as low as you think”, ” a really great bass part”, “not so much forte” and “ignore what is written”. Ron also had strong feelings for tenors, as he said “tenors can’t help singing loud-we’re all that way”. When Ron dressed up and played Haman at a Purim spiel, he had a ball and we all enjoyed ourselves. Ron brought enthusiasm and enrichment to our programs. It was in this time frame that Bob developed his annual trophy for a choir member. The award was given for distinguished service, usually to a newer member of the choir. By the way, Bob entertained us with his music and wit at many of our parties.

We have been blessed over the years by the strong support of our Rabbis, Cantor and members. Their approval has continued to strengthen our resolve.

The years have been good to us by allowing us to do something that we truly enjoy. It really has been fun. We continue to laugh at and with one another. We can joke when we see one of us sleeping in the choir loft. We can console one another when there is a loss of family or one of our members leaves. It has been an extraordinary 18+ years. It is like yesterday that Alan and I continuously joked around during rehearsals and laughed at what was expected of us. We have succeeded in our mission. I treasure every memory.


See video and photos from The Long Island Choir Festival held April 3, 2016

The Long Island Choir Festival where Choirs performed to a packed Sanctuary. **

The Long Island Choir Festival was held at Temple Avodah on April 3, 2016. This was the long-awaited return of a 12-year absence, when during the late 1990’s and then in the early 2000’s Temple Choirs gathered to share their music and their enthusiasm for Reform music performance.

The Temple Avodah Choir (Oceanside) (Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko) was joined by Temple Tikvah (New Hyde Park) (Cantor Guy Bonne), Temple Sinai Community Choir (Roslyn Heights) (Cantors Elena and Sergei Schwartz), Temple B’Nai Torah (Wantagh) (Cantor Steven Sher), North Country Reform Temple – Ner Tamid of Glen Cove (Cantorial Intern Lauren Levy), and Temple Am Echad (Lynbrook) (Cantor Jerry Korobow).

These six choirs brought their best music to the Sanctuary, followed by a Cantor and Cantorial singer performance. The audience sang along on a few songs, and at the very end, the choirs joined together on-stage in a final performance piece.

After the performances, the six choirs and audience including the members of the community, family and friends, met each other and shared their Choir experiences and some refreshments.

This amazing concert performance was the result of our Kol Shirah Committee (Chairperson Cindy Elias), the Event Chairperson (Barry Howard), and our wonderful Temple Avodah Choir: Martin Adler, Connie Axelson, Amy DiStefano, Cindy Elias^, Julie Fahrer^, Abby Ginsberg, Carol Gluck, Marla Gross, Midge Gruber, Barry Howard^^, Jordan Kaplan, Caryle Katz^, Barbara Mandell, Karen Pinsky^, Esther Rosengarten, Ellen Sherman^, Steve Sieber, Barbara Snyder, Ann Taub^, Jocelyn Weston^, Rhoda Yaverbaum. Accompanist: Susan Rogan. Cantorial Soloist: Jessica Gubenko. ^Event Committee Member. ^^Event Chairperson.


The Long Island Choir Festival was an amazing afternoon of music and togetherness celebrated by Long Island Choirs. Experience the festival by watching and listening to the full video!




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Temple Tikvah **

North Country Reform Temple – Ner Tamid of Glen Cove **

Barry Howard and Cindy Elias. **

Temple Sinai Community Choir **

Temple Am Echad – Lynbrook **

Cantors, Cantorial Soloists and Chairpersons perform. **

Temple B’Nai Torah **

Temple Avodah – Oceanside **


The Choirs, audience, family and friends enjoy each other’s company after the performances. **


photo and video credits
* Photo courtesy of Milch Photography
** Photo courtesy of Webmaster
Videos courtesy of Temple Avodah You Tube Channel
If you have photos from any events at Temple Avodah to share on our website, please contact our Webmaster.

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