New York – Legendary Composer Of Nigunim Rabbi Ben Zion Shenker Dies At 91

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    FILE - Benzion Shenker (R) at a farbrengen on Chol HaMoed Pesach 2010 in the Modzitz Shul in Flatbush. (Courtesy Photo by Joel Lowy)New York – One of the most gifted and inspired composers of Hassidic niggunim Rabbi Ben Tzion Shknker has passed away this morning at the age of 91.

    Shenker was born in Williamsburg in 1925, four years after his parents arrived in America. He unknowing embarked on his musical career even before his fifth birthday when his mother would play recorded cantorial albums for him for hours at a time, giving him an appreciation for Jewish music and exposure to often complex pieces of music.

    With his innate talent, Shenker developed an unusual aptitude for cantorial music at a very young age and by the time he was 12 he had been hand picked to become part of a children’s choir.

    One year later, he had his own 15 minute radio program on Sunday afternoons and as a student at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath he got permission from Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz to do the show as long as he returned promptly for second seder.

    Shenker’s long association with Modzitz began at age 15 when he happened to spend a Shabbos meal with the Modzitzer Rebbe. Picking up a book on Chasidic music, which included a chapter on the Modzitzer Rebbe and musical notations of some of his compositions, Shenker began singing the notes to himself.

    Noticing Shenker, the Rebbe was surprised to discover that the yeshiva student was able to read and write music and over time he became the Modzitzer Rebbe’s musical secretary.

    In his lifetime, Shenker is believed to charted approximately 100 Modzitzer niggunim and to have composed approximately 500 original songs. He also served as the chazan in the Modzitzer synagogue in Brooklyn for five decades.

    Shenker’s funeral will be held today at the Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Borough Park at 1:00 PM this afternoon.

    A more detailed profile on Rabbi Shenker will follow.

    Below video is a clip: Niggunim first night of Chanukah candle light, in Borough Park on Nov. 27, 2013 led by Shenker.

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    10 COMMENTS

    1. A legend indeed. A real bal menagen, real songs , real all the way through
      Especially in times like these when real music is scarce mist music these days are composed impulsive on the emotional state of the composer or what music the composer just finished listening to.
      This legend comosed from the “moiach” (brain) as he followed the holy tradition of Modzitz. ” a pity on those lost & xannot be found anymore” may he rest in piece he will be forever remembered through his eternal compositions

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