David Propis

Congregation Shaarey Zedek
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Age: 56
Nominated by: Larry Nemer
Song: “L’Dor Vador,” Meir Finkelstein

Jewish music is part of the fabric of my soul. It is my permanent connection to my father and forefathers. Jewish music is home. Growing up in a musical family, to me music was like family glue. It began at age 5 singing with my father, Cantor Dov Propis. My sisters and I were his High Holiday choir. Whatever our differences at home, when we sang, all was right with the world. That calming yet excited feeling I had singing as a child inspired me to follow in my father’s footsteps. Leading my first children’s choir reminded me how music influenced my development.

These children will also remember their synagogue experiences through music, motivating me to find musical settings that would stir the soul and encourage congregational participation. That was my own personal job description. For the past 30 years I have had the honor of training more than 3,000 b’nai mitzvah students, teaching them to chant our sacred texts and how to lead the congregation in prayer. It’s a source of pride to know that many have become cantors, rabbis and Jewish professionals who themselves are creating their own legacy of inspiration. — David Propis

INFLUENCES: From the cantorial greats of Yossele Rosenblatt, Moishe Oysher, Moishe Koussevitsky and Gershon Serota, to operatic juggernauts Enrico Caruso, Placido Domingo, Beniamino Gigli and Luciano Pavarotti; from guitar legends James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, Les Paul and David Broza, to contemporary composers Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Shlomo Carlebach, Meir Finkelstein and Debbie Friedman. But my biggest influence was my father.

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