[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1446585320″]E[/dropcap]van Kent is no dummy—although he has been known to use one on stage from time to time. Four years ago, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving to Jerusalem, where he teaches cantorial studies at Hebrew Union College and performs as an actor and puppeteer in local theater.
“Music in any religious venue has a great impact on people’s lives,” says Mr. Kent, who served as cantor for 25 years at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. “That’s what attracted me to my line of work, but I’ve always had the bug to do something more theatrical, too. Moving to Jerusalem gave me the freedom to try that.”
Outside of his day job as a professor, Kent has performed in a number of musicals in Jerusalem, including Guys and Dolls, Next to Normal, Singin’ in the Rain, and Avenue Q. This foray into theater inspired him to write a
one-man puppet show entitled Shards: Putting the Pieces Together, in which he compares his grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. with his own personal journey to Israel. “A year after I moved here, the 2014 Gaza War started,” Kent explains. “So I wanted to examine why I chose to live in a part of the world that is so contentious, while also exploring my roots.”
Growing up on Long Island, the alumnus never imagined he’d wind up where he is today. After graduating with his MPA from Baruch in the 1980s, Kent hoped to work in arts administration, but jobs were scarce. He bounced around for a few years in various administrative roles before experiencing what he calls an “epiphany,” ultimately pursuing cantorial school.
“Just because you set out on one path in life doesn’t mean you’ll always have to go in that direction,” he says. “We have many different talents, and they all deserve exploration.”
—Gregory M. Leporati