Music at Temple Sinai

Music plays a central role in the Jewish experience. It uplifts us and serves as a spiritual connection to the past and present. The inclusion of vocal and instrumental music in connection to prayer is neither a new phenomenon nor something unique to Reform Judaism. In fact, references to instrumental music can be found in the Tanach, Talmud and numerous Jewish writings throughout the ages.

Temple Sinai embraces music as an important aspect of our religious services. Each week, talented Jewish musicians accompany Rabbi Annie Belford on the bemah, weaving traditional and contemporary melodies together to create a joyful and meaningful prayer experience.

Josh Levine

Josh Levine began serving Temple Sinai as a cantorial soloist in 2009, and he now serves many other temples in the Houston area as well. Josh holds a bachelor’s degree in choral music education from the University of Houston, where he was active in both the choral and opera programs. He directed the student-founded, multi-conductor choral ensemble Ardore, a group focused on educating and supporting aspiring choral conductors. He was also a section leader in the school’s Concert Chorale. While a member of this prestigious ensemble, the group won major international choral competitions in Germany in both 2013 and 2015. In addition to his work as a professional cantorial soloist, Josh is an assistant choir director at Spring High School in Spring ISD.

Rabbi Ari Vernon

Rabbi Ari Vernon has loved Jewish music since he was a child, originally learning songs through prayer in elementary school, singing around the family Shabbat table on Friday evenings and at Cleveland’s Camp Wise. He discovered the music of Safam as a teenager and expanded his musical horizons through numerous years of involvement and participation in CAJE conferences and as a camper and counselor at Young Judaea’s Camp Tel Yehudah. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2004, and has served as the Director of Secondary Education for the Central Agency for Jewish Education and as the Rabbi-in-Residence for Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community both in St. Louis, Missouri. Rabbi Ari is married to Rabbi Annie Belford, proud father of Lev, Eiden and Ahava, and teaches at The Emery/Weiner School.

Cyd Baron

Cyd Baron has been singing all her life.  After spending her teen years and young adulthood as a folk singer and also singing in a synagogue choir, she became certified through an intensive year-long program sponsored by the Chicago Board of Jewish Education  to teach music in religious school and has been doing so ever since, first in the Chicago area for decades and for the last six years at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism in Houston.  Cyd was also a High Holy Days soloist and Shabbat cantorial soloist in the Chicago suburbs for many years, culminating in her position as sole cantorial soloist for Shabbat and all holidays at Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, Wisconsin—a position she held for 19 years, until her move to Houston.  Cyd has been joyfully leading music at Temple Sinai for over three years and also provides Shabbat music at Garden Terrace nursing home one Shabbat morning per month.  In addition, her day job as Executive Assistant at Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services also allows her opportunities to share her music with the residents.

Jon Swann

Jon Swann is a native Houstonian who recently completed his second summer as a song leader at Greene Family Camp. During the year, he freelances around the Houston area, teaches preschool music at Beth Yeshurun Day School, maintains a private studio of saxophone, clarinet, and guitar students, and is the Director of Education and Community Outreach for Windsync, a classical wind quintet that specializes in children’s music.