Showtime’s president of entertainment is now a Zoom cantor
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Showtime’s president of entertainment is now a Zoom cantor

Having sung for years at LA’s Ahavat Torah synagogue, Gary Levine has had to adapt to the times, learning to accompany his prayers on the piano

Lay cantor Gary Levine sings at home in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Levine)
Lay cantor Gary Levine sings at home in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Levine)

JTA — Gary Levine’s day job is president of entertainment for Showtime Networks. On Saturdays, though, he’s a cantor.

The Hollywood Reporter has been running a series of stories about how Tinseltown notables are faring during the pandemic (pretty well, thanks for asking).

Thursday’s story profiled Levine, who explained that he is the lay cantor for his Ahavat Torah synagogue in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles — a role he’s filled for Shabbat services, holidays, weddings, and bar and bat mitzvahs since 1995.

During the lockdown, he has had to adapt to singing for congregants on Zoom.

“I’ve learned that I can pray and play piano at the same time,” he said. “I am the cantor at my synagogue. So, every Saturday, I go there and wail away under normal circumstances, accompanied by some really wonderful musicians. Well, in a Zoom universe, where you can’t be in sync with other musicians or other singers, I’ve got to fend for myself.

“I had to learn how to play all of the prayers on the piano so that I could accompany myself and then still hopefully chant with as much spirituality and meaning and passion as I normally do while I’m still figuring out if it’s A flat or A sharp,” he noted, laughing. “It’s been an interesting process but I’m really enjoying it and I think having the congregation get together to Zoom on Saturdays is really a welcome break from the isolation.”

He also mentioned another Jewish-themed amusement that he’s been participating in while indoors: watching “Fauda,” Season 3.

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