Friends remember flash flood casualty

Body of American tourist David Tauber flown to US. Funeral expected to take place on weekend.

tauber 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
tauber 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As news spread of the tragic death of American tourist David Tauber, who was caught in a flash flood while hiking in Ein Gedi on Monday, those who knew him expressed shock and dismay over the passing of a man who was respected both professionally and personally. "This is a great loss shared by all of us," said Rabbi Whiman, at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, New York, where Tauber was employed as a cantor. "He had so much energy, his pulpit presence was one of joy, and everyone is feeling it. We've been robbed of a great presence. There are no words, the community is in total shock." The remains were to be flown to the US on Tuesday, and the funeral is expected to take place at the North Shore Synagogue on Thursday or Friday. Tauber was hiking with his wife, Heather, at the Ein Gedi National Park near the Dead Sea when the floodwaters rushed down on them. She survived and was treated by medics on the scene. Staff at the park said they had seen the couple enter the Nahal David gorge earlier in the day. The area had been hit by heavy rains, which caused the stream bed to flood. Tauber's body was found later by search and rescue personnel. The couple was in Israel as part of a program run by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, for which Heather works as meetings coordinator. Tauber held a master's in Sacred Music and a diploma in Hazzanut from Manhattan's Jewish Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 2003. "David loved Yiddishkeit, and loved music, and he saw you could combine music and love of Judaism by being a cantor," said Henry Rosenblum, dean of the Cantorial School at JTS. "He saw it as an ideal calling for himself." Rosenblum taught Tauber and served as his adviser. "He was a lovely young man, and a very musical fellow," said Cantor Lawrence Avery, who taught Tauber for a year while he was at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Avery was invited by Tauber to provide music at his wedding. "David wanted to touch people's lives through his voice and always brought sincerity to what he was doing," said Cantor Laura Berman, who studied with Tauber at JTS. The two spent their first year as cantorial students in Israel studying together. "In Israel, we both saw certain things happening, that in some cases we had trouble with, and David tried to make them better, he wanted to affect positive change." Rabbi John Borak, founder of the Amud Hashachar educational initiative in Los Angeles, also studied with Tauber in Israel. "David is the kind of Jew who made me proud to be a Jew... I knew him as a friend, and his music expressed the way I knew him, he loved life and was always an inspiration." Before he came to the North Shore Synagogue, Tauber worked at the Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn, New York, from 2003 to 2006. Both institutions are in Long Island, east of New York City. He also served at the Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattan, the East Meadow Jewish Center, and in Long Island, and directed the Workmen's Circle Chorus of New York. Like many cantors, Tauber loved opera. A resident artist with both the Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York, and the Amato Opera in Manhattan, Tauber sang roles ranging from the Duke of Verona in Romeo and Juliet to Papageno in The Magic Flute. A soloist with the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir, Tauber represented Israel at the Millennium Sacrum Festival in Valencia, Spain.