Mere Shadows of What They Once Were!

I attended a Benefit Concert at Park East Synagogue in NYC last night, whose purpose even beyond Akhdut, was to raise money for the important work in Israel of ZAKA. Among the celebrities NOT on the stage, none was perhaps more illustrious than Avraham Fried. Eventually, there were calls of Avraham, Avraham to appear on stage with the KHazzzanim in Concert, Meir Helfgot and Yitzkhak Stark. But Reb Avraham politely declined saying, “I need a microphone!” Much was made at the Concert [and rightfully so] that the now aforementioned Guest KHazzanim were singing acoustically, with no microphones and no electronic enhancement! That is essential to being a KHazzan—knowing how to produce a beautiful sound and being able to fill the space. As wonderful as Avraham Fried is, he grew even taller in my eyes, truthfully acknowledging that he is NOT a KHazzan. None of us REALLY knows the true sound of Avraham Fried without a microphone in his hand. Popular Singers are wonderful at a Kumsitz, a Farbrengung, a Concert—THEY TRULY INS[PIRE US! But [E-il na!] please, please!—leave the davening in Shul to KHazzanim! This Generation in All the Movements of Judaism in the US, has seen the rise of the Pop Singer, Song Leader, Rabbi or Lay Leader with no REAL vocal pedagogy, replacing KHazzanim and unfortunately rendering our Services on Shabbat and Yom Tov to mere shadows of what they once were and yet could STILL be—in a KHazzan’s hands!

About the Author
A son of Concentration Camp Survivors who were originally from Bendzin, Poland, Rabbi Cantor Sam was the only member of his immediate family born in the USA. Originally on a trajectory towards being an Actor, a chance encounter with a Synagogue Choir Member at a Pittsburgh Dinner Theater production of Guys and Dolls, had him studying Voice with a leading Cantor of the day, Moshe Taube, and a love of interpreting the Prayers of our People ensued. A lifelong active Member of the Habonim/DROR Socialist Zionist Youth Movement, a return to Judaism did not take much awakening. Being a keen observer and participant in the life of Our People, motivates him to invite dialogue on where we go from here!