Israel Congregation welcomes new spiritual leader.

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MANCHESTER — Cantor Scott Buckner hopes to enhance Manchester's Israel Congregation through his years of experience and musical talent when he assumes his new role as spiritual leader of the Jewish community on June 30.

Buckner has served for 23 years as the cantor of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota, a 1,300 family congregation where he was responsible for music, religious and spiritual life, Jewish education, and congregational leadership. He has served as President of the Hillel Board of Directors at the University of Minnesota, on the ethics committee of the Cantors Assembly and was a reviewer for "Siddur Lev Shalem", the new prayer book published by The Rabbinical Assembly.

"I was trained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, which is the training group for Rabbis and Cantors and educators for the conservative movement of Judaism," said Buckner. "Rabbis and Cantors get similar training, with a major focus on the traditional music of the synagogue and musical fields in general to bring to the congregation."

Buckner is being honored as Cantor Emeritus of Adath Jeshurun as he leaves to start a new life in Vermont. To honor his musical legacy in Minnesota, Adath Jeshurun Congregation sponsored the recording of a CD by Cantor Buckner and his choir of their many musical contributions to the synagogue and the community.

"In practice as a cantor you're serving and fulfilling a lot of the same roles as a Rabbi does in the congregation, with the training to do all the various types of tasks that a spiritual leader engages in," said Buckner. "Whether its accompanying people through various life cycle events and celebrations, sharing their joyus time as well as supporting them in sorrow, that role is something I find very fulfilling. It's incredible to accompany people on their journey while also being able to celebrate their lives."

Buckner's theological and musical dispositions have developed over a lifetime of commitment to Judaism.

"My family attended synagogue, and I always loved music and was blessed with the ability to sing nicely; my grandfather also sang and taught me the music of the synagogue," said Buckner. "I always wanted to sing and follow in those footsteps, and I ended up befriending cantors at the synagogue I grew up in and singing in the choirs."

In his spiritual work, Buckner has been most passionate about connecting with individuals on a personal level.

"Those relationships with the friends and family in my life paved the way for a profession about relationships with people," said Buckner. "I really discovered a great love for the pastoral work, and both the clergy role and the musical role are holistic endeavors that I'm passionate about."

Buckner looks forward to moving to a smaller congregation in Vermont, and is eager to bring his particular style of spiritual leadership to the Israel Congregation which includes upbeat, creative and deeply spiritual music to engage the congregation and the community at large.

"One of the jobs of the Cantor is to raise the world of liturgy, and music can be the best way to raise the word of prayer with the emotion in it," said Buckner. "There are different pieces of my training that I want to bring to my community, including practices based in things like mindfulness and silence and engaging in a different way with how we experience God in our lives day to day."

Buckner and his wife, Marcy, a clinical social worker, love the outdoors and look forward to the Vermont lifestyle including cross-country skiing, biking, running, hiking and golf. The couple has always dreamed of living in a small town, and with their four children grown the timing felt right for Buckner. Their eldest daughter will also be moving to Vermont to begin an organic farm in Tunbridge with her fiance.

"My wife and I have always had an affection for small towns, and we had the idea that maybe the next stage of our lives could be in a beautiful place like Manchester," said Buckner. "All of our kids are into the outdoors, and they're also very much doing work in social justice and environmental protection, which are values very much in line with what Vermont stands for."

Cantor Buckner will begin services on Friday, June 30. For more information, contact the Israel Congregation of Manchester at (802) 362-4578.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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