Posted on January 5, 2012
Marina Indich has served as our professional piano accompanist on Shabbats, every Bar/Bat Mitzvah, during choir rehearsals, and holiday observances and events for the past 18 years. Even before that time, Faye Newman would call upon her to fill in as needed. Marina would play during some portions of the High Holy Days which back then took place at the Garden Grove Community Center. It is fitting to spotlight Marina particularly now during her 18th year (the numerical value of the Hebrew word for “life” chai), as her music and sweet personality add so much “life” to Temple Beth David and its members.
Immediately upon immigrating to the United States from Russia 31 years ago in 1980, Marina, along with her husband Isaac and their one-year-old son Jacob, joined Temple Beth David. It may surprise you to learn that Marina’s very first time in a synagogue was in her early 20’s when she stepped through the doors of Temple Beth David. The moment was so memorable for her because in Russia they didn’t experience religious freedom. Instead, their observances were kept to the confines of their homes on Shabbat and when they enjoyed cultural kosher foods during the holidays. Marina only knew of Orthodox and Chabad houses, and not of the Reform or any other movements within Judaism. It amazed her to see, at Temple Beth David, civilized men and women singing and praying together, socially accepting one another, and outwardly being Jewish. Never again would she have to hide her religion. From the moment she arrived, Marina loved the temple and felt part of the Jewish community. The social hall was the only building at the time. Faye Newman played the organ and composed all the music. There was a huge choir. The Rabbi was Harry Front…someone she met the moment she and her family stepped foot on U.S. soil.
The Indich family left the Soviet Union when the government granted Jews this opportunity. Cousins Steve and Bobbie Wyman, former temple members, sponsored the family. Rabbi Harry Front was a neighbor and good friend of the Wymans so he joined them at the airport to warmly greet the Indich family. He even took video footage of the momentous occasion which the Indich family treasures still to this day.
Marina Indich was born in Minsk, Belarus, and began her piano studies at the early age of five. Per the Russian school system, she attended music school (piano studies) three times a week over an eight year period while also attending regular school. Her advanced studies included music theory and history, and also how to accompany a choir. At 15, Marina was accepted to Glinka Music College, named after a very famous Russian composer, and four years later she earned degrees in piano performance and accompanist.
A love of music ran in the family. Aside from being a bricklayer by trade, Marina’s grandfather was an actor in Yiddish theatre. While her parents too loved music, they had to pursue what Marina would call “solid jobs” after World War II. Her mom became a nurse and her father a civil engineer. The next generation of relatives – she included – all enjoyed the freedom to choose any career they desired. Ironically, they all chose a career in music. Her brother plays a popular Russian instrument called the Bayan (similar to an accordion) and every cousin initially pursued a musical career.
It was a cousin who would eventually introduce Marina to Isaac. They wed just shy of Marina’s 19th birthday. Ten years after arriving to the states, the couple had a second son Lawrence. The boys went on to attend preschool, religious school, and have their Bar Mitzvahs at Temple Beth David. Fast forward, Jacob is now 33, a UC San Diego graduate, and works as an executive in the insurance industry. Lawrence, 23, just graduated from California State University, Long Beach, and is pursuing a career as a special education teacher. Speaking of careers, husband Isaac heads up the maintenance department for the Irvine Unified School District. With a specialty in painting, Isaac has volunteered numerous hours to paint and maintain parts of Temple Beth David. Marina is equally busy. When she originally assumed the piano accompanist role at Temple after the sad passing of her dear friend Faye Newman, Marina was an accompanist for choirs, voice classes, and chamber groups at numerous local colleges and universities. The active member of the Music Teachers Association of California was also busy giving private piano lessons in her Westminster home studio, something she’s been doing now for 25 years. Two highlights of her career were working as the rehearsal pianist at the Pacific Symphony and also performing in concert for the Chazans alongside the renowned Jewish vocalist Barry Zaltsman also originally from Russia.
Marina has a favorite song she plays for every High Holy Day prelude called Ani Ma’amin by W. Sharlin. And, while she doesn’t have a favorite Shabbat song she professes to know the favorites of many congregants. Among her role models is the late Vladimir Horowitz, considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Billy Joel, Elton John, and Celine Dion are among her favorite contemporary performers. At temple her favorite time is the High Holy Days. Giving her all, she admits she is wiped out after the last service. Etched in her mind, however, will be what took place immediately after this year’s last High Holy Day service when six of her former piano students came up and embraced her with hugs. One of the young adults said, “I Just bought my first house and my first piano.” Marina’s exhaustion diminished and she was once again rejuvenated!
Beyond music, Marina enjoys reading biographies, attending the theatre, spending time with family and friends, fine dining (she and her son explore different restaurants in Los Angeles often), and traveling (she and Isaac go on two big trips a year and especially love cruises. A first-ever trip to Israel is planned for 2012).
Many of us know that Marina’s playing during Shabbat services helps us calm down after a busy week. Yet, you’ll be glad to know Marina enjoys the music as much as we do. She loves listening to the singing, helping the cantor and choir, and says she breathes together with the vocalists which helps her to feel what they are going through. She loves working with the grateful and strong choir and such a professional cantor as Cantor Soloist Nancy Linder. Marina is very privileged to play piano for Temple members and we are very privileged to hear her wonderful gift.
Oh, and if you were wondering, like I did, what Marina does on Family Shabbat night when Dr. Aaron Kern plays the piano. She enjoys a well deserved date night with her husband and evenings with their children.