Cantor Elihu Flax
Beth El - Norfolk
You are all standing today before the Lord your God.” (Deut. 29:9)
This quote from Moses, as he addressed the Israelites when they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, has been a guiding principle throughout Cantor Elihu Flax’s life.
His parents, Solomon and Rashie Flax, z”l, were founding members of the Town and Village Conservative Synagogue in New York City (T&V”). They imbued both him and his brother with the values of community, mutual respect and active synagogue participation. He and Daniel (z”l) attended the East Side Hebrew Institute Day School. Alongside others, they were instrumental in starting the practice of having young people read Torah at T&V. His uncle, Louis Moss (z”l), was the cantor there for 36 years.
Elihu cites two additional impactful Jewish community influences: Cejwin Camps (“a wonderful Jewish summer camp”) and the Hillel at Brooklyn College, led by two rabbis — one Orthodox (Norman Frimer) and one Reform (Frank Fischer).
Growing up as they did, he and his brother were inspired to appreciate the value of a Jewish community working together as one. His brother pursued a career in Jewish Federation work. For many years, Daniel worked at the Albany-Troy-Schenectady Jewish Federation.
After graduating from Brooklyn College, Elihu earned these graduate degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary: an M.A. in Rabbinics; then, Investiture as Hazzan and a Sacred Music Degree; and, finally, an Honorary Doctorate of Music.
He has enjoyed a long career as Hazzan. Locally, he served as the cantor at Temple Israel in Norfolk, alongside his esteemed colleague and mentor, Rabbi Michael Panitz. During those years, he often volunteered, occasionally with his children, Solomon and Arielle, at the Beth Sholom nursing home in Virginia Beach. When Beth Sholom added the Terrace for assisted living and then became known as Beth Sholom Village, he accepted their invitation to become Director of Religious Services and Chaplain. In serving the needs of residents and visiting families for 18 years, he not only worked with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis and cantors, but also with Christian and Muslim clergy.
This past year, Elihu has enjoyed serving as Ritual Coordinator of Congregation Beth El and has remained active on the Men’s Club Board. He derives great satisfaction from working with fellow congregants.
So, while he was raised in, believes in, and advocates for Conservative Judaism, he also sees the positive contributions that the other denominations bring to Jewish life. In his own family, they have had two Reform rabbis: Rabbi John Tepfer (deceased); and his cousin, Rabbi Ellen Flax. 
It is his hope and prayer that we have the strength to work for the day when we all will be standing together” in the service of God.
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