In Beny2020 Stories, Featured at HBT, splansky

The Courage of a Cantor

There are many bad jokes about cantors.  I try not to tell them.  I admire cantors for their craft and their courage.

Through last year’s Listening Campaign, ably conducted by our Cantorial Search Committee, we learned that our congregation intuitively knows that a Cantor is not a performer but a Shliach Tzibur, the representative of the congregation at prayer. Even when we don’t know all the words, even when we don’t know the melody, we believe our prayers have a shot at reaching The Almighty because our Cantor’s prayers are offered up with such sincerity. We can trust that our Cantor knows every word and infuses each one with meaning.

It takes courage to take responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of so many Jewish souls gathered in prayer. To sing night and day is physically taxing, but to carry the prayers of an entire congregation night and day must be spiritually exhilarating and exhausting at the very same time.

The Shliach Tzibur is a mirror for the congregation. When the Cantor offers up a sorrowful prayer, we are sorrowful. When the Cantor offers a joyful prayer, we are joyful. The Cantor as Shliach Tzibur stirs in us prayers of longing we may not have even been aware we had within us until we took our seat in the sanctuary. This is how much we depend on cantors.

Honouring Cantor Maissner

It takes more than a voice to be a Shliach Tzibur and stand before God with the congregation’s prayers in your hands.  It takes courage. That is why I admire Cantor Maissner as I do. You know of his skill and talent, but I wish to call attention to his neshamah. Cantor Maissner is creative and fearless in the arena of prayer. It has been an honour to stand by his side on our bima for twenty-one years. And now we are preparing for his forty-first High Holy Day season at Holy Blossom Temple.

The Cantor Celebration Committee has planned a year of tributes and celebrations. The Musical Heritage Committee has compiled with Cantor Maissner an incredible collection of musical gems for us to enjoy throughout the year ahead. Please mark your calendar with the dates, beginning with the mysterious night of Selichot, Saturday night, September 21, which will begin this capstone year before Beny takes up a new role as our Cantor Emeritus.

Searching for our next Cantor

Our impressive Search Committee, chaired by Jeff Denaburg and Rachel Malach, is now able to receive applications via the American Conference of Cantors (Reform) and soon with the Cantors Assembly (Conservative).  If you have any names to put forward for consideration, please reach out to our chairs via [email protected]

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Showing 4 comments
  • Michael Greenstein
    Reply

    Courage comes from the French for “heart”: for 40 years Holy Blossom has taken heart from Cantor Maissner’s heartfelt prayers. With his vast musical knowledge and myriad melodies, he is a Dean among Cantors. For 40 years Beny has led the congregation to a promised place of spiritual song, and we all share in that experience.

    • Rabbi Splansky
      Reply

      Agreed! Hope to see you this Shabbat when we can lift up our voices to join with Cantor Maissner’s leading voice. Shabbat Shalom!

  • Michael Greenstein
    Reply

    It takes three intrepid Rabbis to recognize a Cantor and his qualities.

    • Rabbi Splansky
      Reply

      🙂

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