On Sunday, June 4, more than 350 people gathered together at 583 Park Avenue to support Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and honor this year’s Shem Tov honorees, Cantor Daniel Singer and Marc and Jen Bernstein.
The evening’s program showcased the honorees’ musical gifts, with show-stopping performances by Broadway veteran and Stephen Wise Purim spiel star Robin Lyon, Tony Award-winning singer and actress Laura Benanti, and the extraordinarily talented Marc Bernstein and Cantor Daniel Singer.
The Shem Tov Award is the synagogue’s highest honor. In Jewish tradition, a shem tov or good name stands above all. “We do not usually encounter this unique combination of professional and intellectual brilliance and excellence along with moral standing,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch said of Marc and Jen Bernstein, a brilliant couple whose involvement with the synagogue has enhanced the Stephen Wise community in profound ways.
Whether on stage for Purim or behind the scenes organizing greeters and High Holy Days honors, Jen brings warmth and intelligence to everything that she does, inspiring deeper connections among congregants. A graduate of Penn and the NYU Stern School of Business, Jen is a director at Citigroup, where she focuses on US equity client management.
A classically trained baritone who has performed with members of the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera, Marc is known to many at Stephen Wise for his beautiful singing with his two sons at High Holy Day services and as the king in the annual Purim spiel. He serves on the Executive Committee and as first vice president of the board of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. Marc earned his law degree from Harvard Law School and is a partner at Paul Hastings, where he counsels multinational financial services corporations on employment matters. Marc and Jen are the proud parents of three children: Adam, Brett, and Hayley.
Rabbi Hirsch called Cantor Singer his “partner and friend for more than 10 years, and a musical genius. He is the critical element that has transformed worship at Stephen Wise, and through it, fundamentally redirected the synagogue.” An accomplished recording artist and composer, Cantor Singer is also a voice actor with national credits for radio, television, and animated feature films. He serves as the secretary of the Executive Board of the American Conference of Cantors. Cantor Singer and his wife, Lauren, have two sons, Aiden and Ariel.
Program highlights included a musical motzi by Cantor Singer and Marc Bernstein, two songs performed by Robin Lyon featuring lyrics by Stephen Wise Purim spiel legend Norman Roth, and heartfelt tributes to the honorees by Sara Star, Kim Altschul Straker, and Isaac Corré.
To the delight of everyone in attendance, the applause-filled evening concluded with a musical number by Cantor Singer and Marc Bernstein, original lyrics set to the tune of the enormously popular “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana.