Where Have All The Cantors Gone?

Demand for chazanut is drying up in many parts of the country.

Special To The Jewish Week

When Cantor Seymour Rockoff of Kesher Israel Synagogue in Harrisburg, Pa., died last month, it was truly the end of an era. Rockoff had been the last chazzan standing in any of the five synagogues in my community, most of which had boasted full-time cantors for decades. Cantor Sherwood Goffin of Lincoln Square Synagogue eulogized his colleague as being equally at home belting out prayers in shul and performing in the Catskills; he noted that Cantor Rockoff’s own musical compositions ranged from an anthem of the Soviet Jewry movement, “Am Yisrael Chai” (“The People of Israel Lives”), to Allan Sherman-style parodies of classic songs, such as “Cold Chopped Liver” (sung to the tune of Jerome Kern’s “Ol’ Man River”) and “Boro Park” (sung to the tune of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “New York, New York.”)

An old-school cantor's cap.

Film Of Cantors’ Poland Trip Goes Flat

‘100 Voices: A Journey Home’ offers little historical context.
Special To The Jewish Week

I feel utterly certain that the new documentary “100 Voices: A Journey Home” is the most exasperating film I will see in 2010. The film, which documents the concert tour of a hundred members of the Cantorial Assembly to Poland, dashes all over the place, offering quick histories of the American cantorate, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, the Yiddish theater, and the personal stories of several cantors and musicians whose families survived the Shoah.

“100 Voices: A Journey Home”
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