Ohef Sholom Temple to celebrate Charles Woodward’s 40th year as music director

by | Sep 22, 2022 | What’s Happening

Friday, October 28, 6:30 pm

Forty years ago, Edith Harrison, a long-time Ohef Sholom Temple member and founder of the Virginia Opera, asked a young Charles (Chuck) Woodward who was working for the Opera at the time, if he would “fill in” for OST’s organist who was sick. The organist passed away and Woodward has been “filling in” ever since, serving as the congregation’s music director.

Known in Tidewater as a choral conductor and keyboard player, Woodward serves two historic congregations in Norfolk: Ohef Sholom Temple and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. In addition, he is the artistic director and conductor of the Virginia Chorale, the Commonwealth’s premier professional choral ensemble—acclaimed for its innovative programming.

For Ohef Sholom, Woodward directs the congregation’s choir and assists and supports Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg and Cantor Jennifer Rueben in each week’s Shabbat services. He has been involved in the introduction and commissioning of new music, including Richard Danielpour’s Canticle of Peace for the congregation’s sesquicentennial anniversary in 1994; in the presentation of special programs and services, including A Concert for Social Justice (2020) with the Faith Deliverance Christian Center; and as a resource on Jewish choral music within the community.

At a service honoring Woodward on the occasion of his 30th year with the congregation, Jane Klein Goldman, a congregant and member of Ohef Sholom’s choir, noted in her remarks:

“For a large part of a lifetime, Chuck has devoted his considerable artistic and personal gifts to enriching our lives week after week, making life more beautiful and more holy for the members of our congregation. We at Ohef Sholom are simply blessed that this remarkable man—who arrived here at a young age to provide piano and organ accompaniment to services—has chosen to stay and evolve with us over these many years as his musical artistry and professional accomplishments and reputation have soared.”

In addition to OST’s worship services, Woodward has produced concerts, made certain the congregation had the finest instruments and attracted the area’s best musicians to participate in its services and to perform at its concerts. His dedication to learning and then sharing his knowledge about Jewish sacred music is unsurpassed.

“Chuck is a truly beloved member of our OST family,” says Cantor Jen Rueben. “His collaborative nature, his willingness to give more than is asked, his integrity, and especially his kindness embody the very best of Ohef Sholom. I feel privileged to work alongside Chuck. He makes me a better cantor. I am so grateful that he has dedicated his talents and his heart to us for all these years.”

Shabbat Services on Friday, Oct. 28 will be held in the sanctuary and an expanded, festive Oneg Shabbat, “along with a few surprises, are planned for the evening,” says Sharon Nusbaum, OST first vice president and chair of the celebration.

To make it easier to plan for the Oneg, OST requests RSVPs by calling the temple office or emailing rsvp@ohefsholom.org.