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Robert Kieval, Z"L

Our congregation is saddened by the news of the passing of Cantor Robert Kieval on Sunday, January 23, 2022 (21 Shevat 5782). 

Cantor Kieval served as Senior Cantor at B'nai Israel from 1977 to 2001. More recently, he served on the faculty at the Jewish Theological Seminary and led popular virtual classes through the Cantors Assembly.

A sampling of his amazing musical and liturgical skill is available here

If you wish to memorialize Cantor Kieval through a contribution to B'nai Israel, please click here to give online. The family will be notified of your generosity.

"Robert Kieval was the consummate Hazzan.   Gifted with a vast knowledge of the Jewish liturgical tradition, he had the ability to touch the heart with the power and passion of his magnificent voice. Hazzan Kieval also mentored a generation of Bar and Bat Mitzvah students at B'nai Israel and instilled in them a deep respect for the trope system of Torah and Haftarah chanting.  Alongside his wife, Gayna, who led B'nai Israel's choir, Hazzan Kieval fostered the highest musical standards for our congregation.  He believed in the Synagogue as a source of Jewish identity- he believed in Jewish music as a significant  cultural and spiritual force–and his life became a testament to those values." 
–Rabbi Jonathan Schnitzer

"Cantor Kieval had already retired from B’nai Israel by the time I arrived in the community in 2002, but I knew his name and reputation well. Cantor Kieval had a beautiful and powerful tenor voice, and his knowledge and reverence for both musical and liturgical traditions were immense. Robert and Gayna stayed in the community for a number of years after his retirement and they were always incredibly gracious to my family and me. It is no surprise that more than 20 years after the cantor’s retirement, members of the B’nai Israel community are still devastated. Our hearts go out to Robert’s wife, Gayna; his sons and daughters-in-law, Moshe and Eden, Josh and Maria; and his 9 grandchildren."
–Rabbi Michael Safra, Senior Rabbi 

"Cantor Kieval was a loving interpreter of the words of the prayer book in music and melody. To be at a service with him was a special joy."
–Rabbi Matthew Simon, Rabbi Emeritus



Hazzan Robert Kieval studied Hazzanut at Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He came to B’nai Israel in 1977, and upon his retirement was elected Hazzan Emeritus by the Congregation. Since his retirement he has been serving on the faculty of JTS, and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa by JTS.

Active in the affairs of the Cantors Assembly, he ultimately served as its president. He served on the board of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and was the first Cantor to serve on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement.

Married to the former Gayna Sauler for 46 years, they have two sons Moshe and Joshua.


Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782