‘He was very much the heart and the soul of the congregation’

Herzl cantor Bradlee Kurland passed away on May 18.

Longtime local Cantor Bradlee Kurland was described as a “lovely welcoming soul” and “a true mensch,” someone who brought joy into people’s lives.

Mourning members of Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Mercer Island took to social media to emanate their heartfelt thoughts and memories of Kurland, who passed away on May 18 at the age of 69 of pancreatic cancer.

Approximately 400 to 500 people attended Kurland’s funeral service held on May 21 in the Herzl-Ner Tamid sanctuary with about 1,000 people viewing online.

Hailing from Boston and invested as a cantor by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, Kurland arrived at the Island synagogue in July of 1984 and faithfully served there continuously for 39 years.

Herzl Senior Rabbi Jacob Herber worked alongside Kurland for the last three years and discussed the impact Kurland made on the synagogue and community:

“He was very much the heart and the soul of the congregation because he had such a long tenure, and he had a very giving and loving heart and was just masterful at welcoming people and making them feel valued. And he was involved with people’s lives from birth to grave, everything in between,” said Herber, who also spoke at the service and penned a lengthy letter to the Herzl community on social media about the welcoming, loving and caring cantor.

“May his memory be a blessing,” Herber wrote, adding that Kurland widely shared his love for the Jewish people, Jewish music and Torah and he displayed an inspirational, uplifting and warm presence on the bimah (altar).

“He was always there for us during times of immense happiness and joy, success and challenge, grief, loss and pain,” Herber wrote. “We cannot put into words how devastating this loss is for all of us and how much he will be missed. We extend our deepest condolences to Cantor Kurland’s loving wife, Sandy, and to his devoted children, Akiva, Talya and Noam.”

Kurland’s bio on the Herzl website notes that the congregation has grown in size, diversity and spirit during his tenure.

“Because we freely practice the Jewish custom of hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests), our synagogue is seen as a center for Jews throughout the Seattle area,” the bio reads.

To view the service, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZZBNb9XfYA