Monty Bennett

Monty Bennett

It has been said that there is a special and unique connection between Judaism and music. This connection has led me on a journey that has helped me discover my Jewish roots and has brought me to Temple Israel. I grew up in Northern California, the only child of Catholic parents. I was an infant when my father passed away. My mother was very close to my grandparents, who attended church regularly and stressed the importance of being part of a religious community.

At an early age, music became part of my life. I took music lessons in Junior High and High School at Stanford University and Santa Clara University, graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in music performance. A new job brought me east to South Carolina in 1992, and two years later, I came to Charlotte. Music has enabled me to travel and perform around the world as an organist, accompanist and conductor. My musical journey has included performances at churches and universities throughout this country and trips to Italy and France. It also led me to Temple Israel when I became the choir director in 2008.

I arrived at Temple Israel at the same time as I was on a religious journey. Judaism really connected with me and I enrolled in conversion classes. I quickly learned that my connection to Judaism was deeper than I imagined. I was able to trace my family roots to the late 1300’s to a small Italian town outside of Venice and its historic synagogue. There, I learned that on my mother’s side of the family I had a Jewish heritage. It was an exciting discovery. Just before my grandfather passed away, I learned that he was a butcher in Connecticut and spoke fluent Yiddish. I was finding my Judaism just as Judaism was finding me.

The opportunity to leave a lasting Jewish legacy is important to me. It is easy and enables me to give back in a way that I never imagined. It’s an opportunity for me to lead by example, so I expressed my interest before anyone had the opportunity to contact me. It gives me the chance as an ordinary person, not a major donor, to contribute to the future of a religion that is linked deeply to my past.

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