In music

By Cantor Benjamin Z. Maissner.

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A journey home searching for one’s roots

STOLPERSTEINE – THE STUMBLING STONES

My dear friends and colleagues,

It has only been a few weeks since my return from Hannover, Germany marking the 75th anniversary of Kristahllnacht and I am still in a daze. It is hard to explain and describe in simple words the emotional high and what a deeply moving experience it was for my family and I, both in official public events as well as for personal family experiences. I have been meaning to write about it at length providing a detailed account for each of the numerous events that took place.

I hope to provide a detailed account on my personal blog. For now, only a few points and thoughts.

My family and I were officially invited by the city and the region of Hannover as guests of honour to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Professor Andor Izsak, the President of the European Centre for Jewish Music launched major impressive commemorative concerts and events throughout the city and vicinity.

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Hannover is the hometown of my father and grandparents since shortly after WWI. As many of you know, the famous Oberkantor Israel Alter who served Hannover between 1925 – 1935, was my late uncle.

Due to dedicated efforts of two German personal friends, Katrin Farkas and Corinna Luedtke, the city has initiated the placement of the stumbling stones on the pavement in front of the residences of my grandparents and the dwelling place of Israel Alter and his family including that of my own late mother. In the presence of the Mayors, leaders such as the Bishops of the Catholic and Protestant Church and in the presence of school children and university students, my family and I were honoured. I hope to have the opportunity to write much more in detail about our impression of the younger generation in Germany dealing with the memory of the Shoah and the impact it made upon us.

The City of Hannover to my surprise still remembers and celebrates the glorious stentorian voice and stature of my Uncle, Israel Alter, in major ways. His portrait is edged into the memorial wall of the magnificent synagogue that was burnt on the night of November 9, 1938. Young journalists stopped me more than once to inquire about his fate and survival.

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As a result you can see for yourselves the new website and the article in German in the Wikipedia encyclopaedia. It is going to be translated into English very shortly. Just witness how memory lives on.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Alter (now translated)

A website was created as well by my friend, Katrin Farkas, who has dedicated her life to the memory of Israel Alter.

http://cantor-israel-alter.com/

I just received this link from the main concert on November 10 at the largest church Marktplaz Kirche in Hannover. Here I was honoured to participate in a commemorative service which was simulcast throughout Germany. It is unedited and contains all the German speeches. You may want to move forward to the vocal portion of the best Western European repertoire. Participating are the two most incredible professional choirs in Germany. The Heidelberg Chorus and the European Synagogal Choir.

Enjoy!

http://www.ndr.de/kultur/klassik/gedenkkonzert101.html

Watch for a detailed account on my blog here.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Rouhama Danto
    Reply

    My dear Beny,
    As a childhood friend and as a student of my father, Harav Dov Arie Lebel, I am so proud of your achievements. You are a great musician, a dedicated cantor and a real mentch. You definitely this honour. Kol Hakavod.
    Keep it up.
    Love
    Rouhama

  • cantor yehuda Rottner
    Reply

    Cantor Yehuda Rottner Benny,you are one of the most talent and great cantors I know,u love your uncle so much,every meeting we have at cantorial council in Toronto,you alwase say good thing about the great cantor Alter a”h,his music,his voice,his friends with others college cantors,make you so proud about hem,you make me sing his “Retze Bimnuchataynu”composition,and to record it,until today ppl calling me and appreciated of this composition,and all credit going to you,my friend,you are a Ztadik,and we love you. yasher co’h,

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