Michael Smolash serves as a cantor of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield which, at 3500 families, is the largest Reform synagogue in the world. He sits proudly in the Stephen Gottlieb z”l Cantorial Chair. Together with an amazing clergy team, he has helped craft one of the most vibrant Jewish worship programs in North America, with Friday night services attracting 1200 plus congregants each shabbat throughout the summer. Michael has coproduced two albums of Temple Israel’s music, which has been featured on the Union for Reform Judaism’s Ruach CD, as well as on the Songbook and CD for Kabbalat Shabbat at the URJ’s Biennial Convention. Michael has been a pioneer of the use of Youtube videos for synagogue outreach. As director, producer, or music director, he has created an online video presence for Temple with over one million views. He is also a student of Australia’s Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf, one of the foremost teachers of kabbalah today, and teaches classes and individual learning on the mystical aspects of Judaism for progressive communities.
Before arriving at Temple Israel, Michael worked in Music Theatre across Canada for 15 years while also serving as Chazzan Sheini at Holy Blossom Temple (Toronto). His roles included Sparky in Forever Plaid, Billy Lawlor in Forty Second Street, and Matt in The Fantasticks. Cantor Smolash was called to Temple Israel’s pulpit while a member of the Toronto cast of The Producers, where he covered the lead role of Leo Bloom, as well as those of the entire male cast of singers, actors and dancers. He is a proud member of the American Conference of Cantors, the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, and the Association of Canadian television and Radio Artists, and has served as president of the Michigan Board of Cantors. He also produced and directed the Michigan Board of Cantors’ annual Stephen Gottlieb concerts from their launch for five consecutive years, with a sold out theater every performance.
Michael was honored by being invited to lead Friday night services at the Biennial Conference for Reform Judaism in 2009 in Toronto – one of the largest gatherings of Jews in North America. In addition, Michael has lectured on recording a congregational CD for the American Conference of Cantors, and has been invited to teach worship technology at the URJ’s Biennial convention.
On the concert stage, Michael is a sought after artist both for new commissions and gala musical events. He has premiered several new works for voice and orchestra by Stephen Glass at the historical Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal. He also created the role of Cham in The Flood According to Cham by Broadway legend Gershon Kingsley, and the role of King David in a new oratorio by Eyal Bitton. Michael was featured in an evening with Charles Strouse, composer of Annie, where he sang the premiere of Charles’ new composition, Jerusalem. He was also a featured soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in their performance of Liberation by Meir Finkelstein.
A proponent of contemporary Jewish music in the shul, Michael created WJEW: the first twenty-four-hour synagogue internet radio station. With listeners in over twenty countries, WJEW was featured as an “Achiever and Exemplar” in Reform Judaism magazine. Students at the station interviewed some of the most influential Jewish personalities in North America, including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (TLC’s Shalom In the Home), recording artist Matisyahu, and Rabbi Paul Yedwab (author of Sex in the Texts).
Michael is married to Dr Jen Green, a Naturopathic Doctor and published researcher. They have two amazing children, Ayla and Cedar.