Singing a new song

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Shortly after he became the part-time rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Marlborough a year and a half ago, Scott Sokol was talking with a congregant at a synagogue event when he heard a woman behind him say, “rabbi, rabbi, rabbi.”

After a few moments, it dawned on him that he was the one she was addressing.

“I’m sorry, that’s me,” he recalled telling her. “I’m so used to being addressed as cantor.”

It’s no wonder Sokol was confused. He became a rabbi after many years as a cantor — the clergy member who sings solo and with the congregation at services.

While few wear as many different hats (or yarmulkes) as Sokol, cantors today must possess more than just a melodious voice to suit the needs and budgets of 21st-century congregations.

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