Meir Finkelstein (Hebrew: מאיר פינקלשטיין‎‎; born 1951) is a cantor and composer of contemporary Jewish liturgical music. He has composed more than 200 settings for the liturgy,[1] as well as scored numerous television programs, made-for-TV movies, and documentary films. His tunes are sung in many Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist congregations.[2][3] He is considered one of the most popular contemporary Jewish liturgical composers in the United States.[4]

Early life

Finkelstein was born in Israel in 1951. His father, the late Zvi Finkelstein, accepted a cantorial position in London, England, and the family moved there in 1955.[5]

Young Meir displayed outstanding musical talent at an early age.[5] Together with his older brother, Aryeh, he was soon accompanying their father in concert and on radio and television.[6] At age 14, Meir became the cantor for a small synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland, thereby becoming the youngest cantor in Europe.[1] The Finkelsteins went on to record two albums of original Israeli and cantorial songs.[6]

At age 18, Meir became the cantor for one of London's most prestigious congregations, Golders Green Synagogue.[1] While working at this congregation, he graduated from the Royal College of Music with an ARCM degree in voice, composition and piano.[1][5]

Move to the USA

A few years later he moved to the United States to become the cantor at Beth Hillel Congregation of Wilmette, Illinois.[5] In 1982 he was appointed cantor of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, a congregation he served for eighteen years.[7]

During his tenure with Sinai Temple, Finkelstein composed more than 100 settings for the liturgy while simultaneously enjoying a successful career as a Hollywood composer/arranger. He scored numerous television shows, including episodes of Dallas and Falcon's Crest, as well as many made-for-TV movies. He collaborated with Steven Spielberg, composing music for the Visual History Foundation's award-winning documentary, "Survivors of the Holocaust".[1][5]

Finkelstein's next cantorial position was at Congregation Beth Tzedec of Toronto, where he worked for three years before moving to Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan.[5] On July 1, 2013, he became the cantor at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, Texas.

Finkelstein also works as a producer and arranger, and has collaborated on many of his colleagues' albums. He was one of the "Three Cantors," along with Alberto Mizrahi and David Propis, performing in sold-out cantorial symphonic concerts in Houston, Texas in 1995 and 1996.[8] He also lectures on the history of Jewish liturgy as a scholar-in-residence at synagogues in the United States.[9]

Musical style

According to Nick Strimple, Finkelstein's work is influenced both by his British musical training and American musical theater.[10]

Finkelstein's contemporary Jewish music is sung in synagogues throughout the world.[1] His song L'dor Vador (From Generation to Generation) is one of his most popular.[11] In 1993 he composed a Jewish requiem for victims of terror, Nishmat Tzedek (Soul of Righteousness). In 1995 he premiered an oratorio, "Liberation: A Choral Symphony", commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps,[12] at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The performance featured the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and soloists.[5]


Finkelstein's wife, Monica, is a practicing attorney at law in the greater Detroit area.[13] They have two children, Noah and Emily. Finkelstein also has two grown children in Los Angeles, Nadia and Adam,[5] by his first wife, Leba Nemeth, daughter of the late Rabbi Morris Nemeth of Liverpool's Greenbank Drive and London's St Petersburg Place synagogues.


  • Finkelstein, Meir; Frenkel, Chayim; Chicago, Judy (2003). Nishmat Tzedek. Kehillat Israel. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f Smolen, Alan. "World Famous Cantor, Composer and Pianist Extraordinaire Meir Finkelstein at Beth Judah for 'Awesome Artist Adventure'". Jewish Times of South Jersey. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "A World Premier" (PDF). Clarion. Adath Jeshurun. October 2009. p. 6. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Cantor Abbe Sher". Temple Judea of Manhasset. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Miller, Malcolm (17 June 2009). "Refreshing Surprises". Music & Vision. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Clergy: Cantor Meir Finkelstein". Congregation Shaarey Tzedek. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Clergy". Congregation Mishkan Tefila. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sounds of Sinai: One hundred years of liturgical music". Sinai Temple. 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Yom Limmud Presenter Bios 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Biography". Meir Music. 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Strimple, Nick (1 November 2005). Choral Music in the Twentieth Century. Amadeus Press. p. 274. ISBN 1-57467-122-7. 
  11. ^ Leighton, Lesley. "2010-11 LRMC Program Notes". Los Robles Master Chorale. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "2010 Concert Performers: Chayim Frenkel". Kindred Spirits. 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "Finkelstein in Greater Detroit Area". 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.