Borough Park, NY – Overflow Crowd Attends Moving Tribute To The King Of Cantors (Exclusive 1Hr. Replay Video)

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    Borough Park, NY – A standing-room-only crowd attended an event last night celebrating the 80th anniversary of the passing of the greatest chazzan of all-time at the very Shul where he was Bal Tefillah for five years.

    An unforgettable evening celebrating the music of Chazzan Yossele Rosenblatt was held at the First Congregation Anshei Sfard of Boro Park, featuring five of the world’s top Chazzanim.

    Performers included Cantor Yaakov Yosef Shtark, who sang the Memorial Prayer in tribute to Rosenblatt; Cantor Yaakov Motzen, who led Maariv; Cantor Binyomin Muller from Antwerp; and Cantors Yaakov Rosenfeld and Yaakov Lemmer, both of Brooklyn.

    A surprise guest appearance by rising star, Cantor Usher Bloomberg, was also a highlight.

    Monday marks the 80th anniversary of the passing of Chazzan Yossele Rosenblatt, who tragically died at the age of 51 while on a visit to Eretz Yisrael.

    Organizers said the event drew such large crowds that people had to be turned away.

    The talent coordinator for the evening, Cantor Benny Rogosnitsky of Park East Synagogue said, “What an immense and moving tribute to the greatest Chazzan who ever lived in the very shul where he davened for close to five years. When the Chazzanim sang, you could hear a pin drop. Yossele would have been proud.”

    In his remarks Rabbi Yechiel Kaufman, the Rav of the shul, lauded Rosenblatt’s piousness and religiosity and spoke movingly of his contribution to the world of Tefillah.

    After the event, Rogosnitsky said, “Last night was a testament to the fact that eighty years later, Chazzanus lives on, and looking around at the many young faces in the audience and the young talent in the program, there is great hope and promise for the future.”

    Watch below in HD over an hour of Chazones recorded by Shmuel Lenchevsky exclusive to VIN News.

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    32 COMMENTS

    1. I am not a Chazunis fan per say, but I do enjoy listening to it – especially the Yossele Rosenblatt tapes.

      The famous picture of him on the river (I believe the Nile?) was taken on the day before he passed away. For those who are familiar with His story… a truly sad story to the end of an admirable life.

      He was offered Huge money to perform in non-Jewish theaters and instead chose to live the life of a Ben-Torah (not to mention poverty – even the best of the best didn’t do well financially in that era)

      • The river was the Jordan not the nile. Rosenblatt was very successful financially – however he was scammed to finance the payroll of a newspaper that was for Kiruv purposes. Unfortunately he did not seek advise as to whether this was a worthwhile endeavor ( even though his own son was an accountant- he didn’t confide in him). Although a court allowed him to declare bankruptcy- he felt an moral obligation to repay his debts and was singing at any venue that he could make money including burlesque. I would imagine this stress contributed to his untimely death.

    2. Thank you so much VIN for making this available to those of us outside of NYC who couldn’t attend in person. While chazanus is a personal matter, I found several of the “older” chazzonim having considerably more powerful and beautiful voices than the “rising star” Usher Bloomberg whose presentation was pleasant but not awesome.

    3. Such interest in something as strange as cantorial singing makes one shudder as to how much of our religious societal practices hinge in nothing more than nostalgia.

      • To no. 3
        In case you haven’t checked lately, most of yiddeshkeit is “nostalgia” but it is rooted in a fundamental belief in daas torah and the concept that each of us can communicate directly with the Ebeshter (although we frequently choose to daven with a minyan and have a shaliach tzibur articuate our prayers collectively). Chazanus is the finest manifestation of that collective prayer. Call it nostalgic.

          • I love chazzanus and wish I could have been there. I cannot for the life of me figue out why people have to find something critical to say about everything.

            To #3 and #20, singing davening goes back to the beis hamikdash, did you ask do you wonder if the leviim concentrated on what they were saying????

            Unlike most Jewish music of today, chazzanus makes no attempt to be cool or hip, or imitate goyishe styles. I am sure there was no smoke machine or colored lights.

            • Lets get something straight. The leviim definitely concentrated on the words of song. It was their native language anyway. I have nothing against singing during davening. Plenty of rabbis did it. My problem is chazanis. Singing is to song as chazanis is to noise.

            • Agreed. Entirely too much nastiness here, and from people who I imagine have no musical background whatsoever. The concert was excellent. Case close.

      • Your statement is absolutely narishkit- our whole religion is mesorah based- the cantorial art is the ONLY UNIQUE Jewish art. It is a shame that it is being lost because of the likes of people like you. There appears to be Hiddur mitzvah in all areas of yiddishkite WITH THE EXCEPTION of T’fillah.

    4. ushi blumenberg you were great!!!! you really improved please post more stuff from you on you tube there are only 3 posts & you were younger & not so good & confident.from all the chazonim who sang there tonight i dont know about the chazonis part but you were the most pleasant to watch………..keep it up

      • The acoustics in the shul are not good. While not permitted on Shabbos and Yomtov, having the sound lightly enhanced (and it WAS light) did make things better to hear and easier on the artists.

    5. Of the entire creation, only humans are able to appreciate art forms, such as music. The fact that a cow does not appreciate music does not mean that music is boring nostalgia. Those who appreciate davening, and also appreciate chazzonus will be the ones to appreciate Yossele’s chazzonus the most. Not only do his pieces generally reflect correctly and intensify the davener’s connection to the meaning of the words, the composer (Yoselle) lived with those words. Unlike the types of Zavel K etc. when one daven’s with his tunes one is not disturbed by the motivation of the composer. Yosselle kept his full beard and peyos in spite of all pressures. Did not sing where unJewish, regardless of the financial temptation. More so, when some investors swindled him out of his wealth, he would not declare bankruptcy, instead he pushed himself to perform more than his health would allow, to pay off his debtors. While davening at the kosel someone saw him take out a little bottle of water from his pocket (you can carry in Yerushalaim). Someone questioned him on this. He said, he had touched a place where washing is required, so he took water to wash his hands (while chazzan). True Yiras Shomayim.

      • “Did not sing where unJewish” He in fact did sing secular songs – in several languages, I might add. I believe, it was his son who said, if Yoselle ever understood the lyrics to some of those songs -perhaps he would have selected different ones.

      • There is a biography on Yoselle Rosenblatt written by his son, Samuel in 1954. Hard to get, but worth reading, IF you can get a copy. It was published by Farrar, Straus, and Young

    6. A wonderful program. Just wished the article would have place the word “arguably” in front of “greatest chazzan of all time.” Discussions surrounding Rosenblatt, Hershman, Shlisky, Kvartin, Koussevitzky(all), Glantz, Genchoff, and many others abound. Rosenblatt, in my opinion, was not the greatest, but certainly a pioneer – A sort of Jackie Robinson of his art.

    7. One day I hope I will understand why the back side of a horse would make a comment like poster #3 did. Chazonus is an art, and I wish I had a voice like any of our great chazzanim. If you don’t enjoy it, then just shut up. You really don’t have to publicize your ignorance. Go find your friend Alterg and play in traffic.

    8. First off il start by saying that the crowd there was terrible, no respect for the Chazzanim nor the Shul, the concert would’ve been a lot nicer and plea sent if the audience would just behave.

      2. I’m not a huge fan of the Sefardisha Shul in terms of singing there, the acoustics & atmosphere just doesn’t feel right there, I’d much rather enjoy if it would have been in BethEl.

      3. The choir could have been a LOT better.

      4. Chazzanim & Shtiklach,

      Cantor Rosenfeld was absolutely great, especially with Teka, it’s an amazing, musical & tough piece to sing but he nailed it.
      Though he was a bit overpowering during the duet with Motzen.
      His voice improved a lot too.
      I wouldn’t say it was his best but he did very well.

      Cantor Lemmer gave a bit of an impression that he was tired and not so amped but when he started singing Rachel, one can see that it was most probably because of the seriousness of the piece & event.
      He did really well with Rachel Mevaka.
      At his V’af Hu duet with Motzen, I wish he would have done more of the harmony & Motzen more of the Melody but overall was a nice duet.

      Yuhrtzeit Licht was OUTSTANDING.
      The way he expressed the words so well & his voice was really great.
      As he does very well with Yiddish pieces & Opera.

      Cantor Muller did a pretty decent impression of Yossele, though I don’t think it was supposed to be an impression but I’ve heard him a lot & this was definitely not his regular, thus can be that working hard on the impression & Krechtzin might have croaked him up. I’ll just say that you gotta be yourself & it totally wasn’t his night, sorry.

      Cantor Motzen did fine at both duets.
      His Maariv was impressive, a bit too long, especially with such a crowd, but it was really nice, better at the second half.

      Cantor Blumenberg was ok, much improvement in his voice but I still think he’s far away from being a star.

      Cantor Stark as usual came only at the end, which is his usual tactic that everybody should leave with his screeching in the ears.
      He has great Regesh & a pretty high range, but I literally can’t hear the niceness in his voice, it sounds like a crying cat & it looked like he was gonna have an aneurism.
      Whoever noticed, the choir leader came yelling at the sound man after Stark finished that he killed him with the volume, so the sound man answered that it was Starks request to have at a specific volume, if not be wouldn’t sing. (This is not the first time I’ve seen him manipulating the volume), shameful.

      So lets sum it up,
      In my opinion Cantor Lemmer won the night even though it wasn’t his best.

      Cantor Rosenfeld came in second.

      Can’t wait for the next concert.

      This is all my personal opinion, feel free to disagree.

        • Ya think? Motzen’s Maariv was soulful and artistic. In fact, Motzen was the only one there who actually davens, he doesn’t just parrot pieces he’s memorized like most of them. He knows what he’s saying, he knows nusach, and he’s singing better than ever. I heard he wasn’t part of the original line up. Whatever happened that made it possible for us to hear him, the concert was better for it

    9. Chaverim: Just want you to know that art doesn’t care about those who don’t like art. Art springs from the heart just as it did from Yosele’s. The Met, The Louvre, The Met Museum the Guggenheim and Town Halls all over the world are filled with people who want to view and hear and experience art in whatever form. What can I say about Yosele? Well, I’ve lived my life with him – and he has brought me closer to Hashem than most hazzanim of today. What makes Yosele reach out to me – and I believe my very soul; is [his neshomo] Since we are created ‘betzelem Elokim’ the music which enriches our lives because of Yosele – certainly came from Hashem Himself! Here is a a piece that Henry Rosenblatt [his son] gave to me written on original manuscript – I hope you like ‘Ad Heino Azorunu’ Enjoy! Shalom

    10. Performance is performance. However, when one knows a piece well, one does not need to focus on getting it right while davening. Thus, it is possible to be thoroughly elevated by davening while singing chazzanus. And this is likely what the Leviim did. There are a few pieces of Yossele that are basically more for performance (Lo Sachmod is an example). The vast majority fit so perfectly with the words. And I have to agree with comment 10: The fact that a really frum person composed the songs makes a difference. As far as who was the greatest. Of course, some will argue it was David Kossovitzky. Even Kvartin is not close to these two–in spite of his uniquenesses. No one else comes close! However, no one, but no one would argue that Yossele was the greatest composer of Chazzanus by far, by all criteria. The range of his voice was also something else. Because of the poor quality of recordings in his day, we are at a disadvantage to getting a true sense of what he sounded like. I do think that David Kossovitzky had a nicer voice. Helfgot’s voice has a greater range than Kossovitzky, and their voices are quite similar, but there is a something in Kossovitzky’s voice; hard to describe.

      • Moshe Koussevitzsky’s voice was like a pipe organ compare to Helfgott- The quality of MK’s high notes (and low and middle)is far superior to Helfgott’s- hitting the note is not what its all about – as was apparent from Stark’s end of the Kel Molei.

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