Attending the 14th European Cantors Association annual convention in Budapest at this beautiful Synagogue built 1872 and restored in 2021 by the Hungarian government.
For 5 days, almost a 100 of us, coming to pray from all over the world to share experiences, knowledge and our music. Two choirs joining us from London and Israel. Workshops, panel discussions, masterclasses and concerts by prestigious Cantors.
The theme is the prayer modes/nusach, how to preserve them in a changing world.
These is a little sample of some of the events;
Participating in a panel in the future of the prayer modes, I felt humbled sitting here in between Cantor Asher Hainovitz and Cantor Deborah Katchko, I explained how at Belsize Square Synagogue children grow up listening and learning the Lewandowski legacy and how we fulfil the needs of preserving the musical tradition of prayers as both Lewandowski and S. Sulzer express in the prefaces of their magnum opuses.
In other panels Cantors Asher Hainovitz, Debbie Katchko and my dear friend Beni Meissner teach how they have taught it in their very successful careers as they learned from their teachers
Concerts and praying.
The last day for the eleven months I was saying Kaddish (the prayer for the mourners) after the loss of my mother z”l, that coincided with being here at the convention. I led the prayers Friday morning and afternoon we did in the style of the Princess Road Synagogue of Liverpool as set in the English liturgy in the so-called Blue book, a little example of Psalm 145 with the introduction tocthe Psalm in compositions of S. Sulzer and F. Mendelsohn, here accompanied by the Kol Rinah choir of Israel, directed by Maestro Jonny Greenstein. This was very moving while sharing with my colleagues this milestone in my life.
The Gala concert to conclude the convention, included my participation with two duets with Cantor Sofia Falkovitch, one of them Shlessinger’s Haben Yakir Li Efraim, (which can be heard elsewhere in my webpage). This is Zvi Talmon’s Ein Keloheinu, we sung together.
Also it has been the opportunity to socialise with new and old friends, Professor Jonathan Webber, Cantor Moshe Dubiner, David Prager between others. Finally express gratitude for the impeccably organised program prepared by the European Cantors Association, Alex Klein, Geraldine Auerbach, Russel Grossman and Barbara Rosenberg and the Rumbach Synagogue which once more has given me the opportunity to grow, learn and give me inspiration in my ministry as a Cantor.
After the convention we toured Budapest’s Jewish quarter, the inmense Dohany Synagogue (pictured below). Our guide reminded us of the deportation of almost 500,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in 1944. Thousands who remained in Budapest were shot at the bank of the Danube, where there is now a shockingly moving memorial in the form of a sculpture of their shoes, which they were forced to remove before they were murdered. May the sacrifice of the victims of the Shoah be a motivation for us to continue and maintain our beautiful heritage and in particular, our ancient prayer modes.