A chazan on the pulpits of local congregations and an opera singer on international stages, Cantor David Tauber often accompanied his wife Heather to Israel when she led tours as meetings coordinator for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. During the Israeli missions he would serve as the participants’ cantor, taking part in Shabbat services and spending his spare time hiking through the country with his wife.
Cantor Tauber’s hobby cost him his life this week.
He drowned Monday, Feb. 25, in a ravine at the Ein Gedi nature reserve in the eastern Judean desert, near the Dead Sea, when a flash flood swept the area. He was 34.
His body was discovered after an extensive helicopter search.
Mrs. Tauber, who had been carried away by the torrent, was found traumatized in a nearby cave by Ein Gedi’s rescue unit.
“He really loved being in Israel,” said Rabbi David Whiman, spiritual leader of the North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, L.I., where Cantor Tauber had served the last two years.
“He was a sweetheart of a guy. He had a very youthful persona. He was very good with kids,” Rabbi Whiman said. “His pulpit style was engaging, endearing and invitational.
“In a relatively short time he really endeared himself to the congregation,” the rabbi said.
“He brought out the best in the [synagogue] choir. Everybody loved him,” said Cantor Tauber’s uncle, Arthur Berkowitz, a longtime member of the congregation’s choir.
Funeral services for the cantor were to be held this week at the synagogue, and burial was at Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale.
A memorial service for Cantor Tauber will be held next month, Rabbi Whiman said.
A native of Massapequa who was living in Brooklyn at the time of his death, Cantor Tauber earned his master’s degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He served at Sutton Place Synagogue, the East Meadow Jewish Center and the Shelter Rock Jewish Center, and directed the Workmen’s Circle Chorus.
A baritone, he performed with the Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, the Amato Opera in Manhattan and the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir. He was also a soloist at Lincoln Center with the Rottenberg Choral, and was invited to represent Israel at an international festival of sacred music in Valencia, Spain.
He was selected by the Presidents Conference to sing “Hatikvah” during an appearance by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Palace Hotel in 2005.
In addition to his wife and uncle, Cantor Tauber is survived by his mother, Phyllis Wiener, and a brother, Steven.