Norman P. Swerling was born in Revere, Massachusetts in 1931. He began his career as a Chaplains Assistant in the Army and was a graduate of Hebrew Union College, Sacred School of Music.
Swerling was the Cantor at my synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, in Wilmington, Delaware. He has also served at the North Shore Synagogue in Rye, New York, Congregation Mikve Israel Emanual in Curaco, Netherlands and Temble B'Nai Israel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also was the Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations Eisner Camp Institute of Living Judaism in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
He was also a talented actor and educator. He performed in plays such as "The World of the Stetl", "Uptown Downtown", "The Heart of Musical Comedy", and more. He was a favorite teacher in the Jewish Elder Hostel programs. Head Chaplain for the Jewish War Veterans in Wilmington was yet another of his myriad roles.
However, he touched my life, and my family's, through his work as Cantor at Congregation Beth Shalom. He taught my brother and my sister both how to do their Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvahs, respectively. He always had a candy for the impatient and pesky young children (myself included.) His voice was a deep, rich bass that reverberated throughout the congregation and carried everyone else's voice in the same way that a firefighter will carry a baby out of a burning building. He was, sadly, retired by the time I was of age to perform my Bar Mitzvah, but he still attended and let his voice be heard.
However, slightly after my Bar Mitzvah, he developed pancreatic cancer, and on October 17, 2001, three days ago, Norman P. Swerling died at the age of 70.
In loving memory of Norman P. Swerling.