Cantor Sara Hass grew up in the Los Angeles area and was involved in the Jewish community from a very early age. In her youth, she spent fourteen summers at Camp Newman/Swig, and it was there that she discovered her love for Jewish music. Cantor Hass worked as a song leader and tefillah coordinator at several URJ Camps, including URJ Jacobs Camp in Utica, MS, URJ Eisner Camp, as well as Camp Newman.
After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in Music Business, Cantor Hass spent a year in New York City pursing musical theater, and prides herself in having accomplished just that… working as a singing waitress at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on the street “Broadway”. She then moved back to Los Angeles and shortly after made the decision to pursue the Cantorate. Before beginning her studies at the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, she worked at the Professional Leaders Project – a small Jewish non-profit providing leadership training to young Jewish adults in their 20s and 30s, as well as for the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles in the legal and entertainment divisions.
Cantor Hass received her Cantorial Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in May of 2015. Serving Temple Israel of Long Beach as its first full-time ordained cantor is something that she is very proud of, and works hard to help enhance and create new programing for this wonderful community. She values creating accessible and uplifting musical experiences for people of all ages, and strives to bring contemporary pieces along with nostalgic melodies to her congregants. Previously, she served at Temple Beth David in Cheshire, CT, Temple Rodef Shalom in Fall’s Church, VA, Congregation Shma Koleinu in Houston, TX, and Beth El Temple Center in Belmont, MA, as cantorial intern.
Cantor Marvin Finnley grew up in California, and always had a keen sense of pitch as far back as he can remember. He learned to play the accordion at a young age, and loved to sing, and kept it up in school where he sang with the All City Chorus in Santa Barbara, and went on to sing with the Music Academy of the West chorus in several opera productions. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, although he majored in Physics, Cantor still kept up singing in the RPI Glee Club. Following graduation, he went to work for NASA at Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy at the time), met many of the astronauts, and watched many launches close up. After a while, he returned to California and attended graduate school at Cal State Long Beach. During the summer of 1967, he toured with the Roger Wagner Chorale in Japan and was in Roger’s chorus for the movie, “Paint Your Wagon.” In 1968, he entered military service as a member of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants, a unit of the US Air Force Band in Washington, DC. They performed at the White House many times, and toured in Europe while he was a member.
Cantor Finnley began to study with the retired Cantor from one of the large Reform Temples in DC, Temple Sinai, and was able to become the cantor of that synagogue in 1971. He become a full time singer in 1979, and was fortunate to perform with the Washington Opera Company and the Wolf Trap Opera Company in subsequent years.
Towards the end of 1982, he was determined to return to California and seek another technical job while trying to find a Temple where he could continue his work as a cantor. He began his tenure at Temple Israel in August 1983. Since his arrival in Long Beach, Cantor married his wife, Hannah, welcomed a wonderful young son, Zev, to their family, and shared many joyful and sad events with our Temple family.