In preparation for the upcoming Yomim Noraim, Hillel of Rockland run by Chabadniks Rabbi Dov and Shevy Oliver presented “An Evening of Chazanus,” featuring an incredible lineup of seven noted chazzanim at a Shul in Montebello on September 19.
The gathering of talent and variety among the chazzanim was unprecedented in Rockland. It had fans of the niche genre very excited. The chazzanim sang individually and as a group, including selections in Hebrew from Yom Tov davening and Yiddish favorites popular with the audience of 200.
“It was a great experience performing with my colleagues to benefit an important cause,” said the night’s headliner, Chazan Netanel Hershtik, scion of an acclaimed cantorial family.
Chazan Benzion Miller, the “elder statesman” of the group is a veritable legend in the world of cantors. Miller, who was born in 1947 in a DP camp, was privileged to be among the first group of chazzanim to perform in Eastern Europe after the Second World War.
Most of the chazzanim came in from New York City, New Jersey or Philadelphia. But some of the biggest applause on the night was reserved for Chazzan Yoel Menachem Kohn, a Rockland resident and former student of Rockland Community College where the Olivers run Jewish life. Kohn, a prodigious talent who hales from a family of chazzanim wowed the crowd with his rendition of “Rozoh D’shabbos” – and dedicated it to his warm experience of Shabbosim spent with Hillel of Rockland and in particular at the home of Binyomin and Chani Philipson, frequent partners and supporters of the Olivers work.
The evening’s program was curated by Chazan Aryeh Leib Hurwitz whose solo performance of Oshamnu M’kol Am was greatly enjoyed by those in attendance. Hurwitz, a Crown Heights native has performed at many concerts and has been visiting many Chabad Houses of late presenting song and music workshops and concerts.
The audience was treated to a masterful performance by Chazan Chaim Dovid Berson who holds a chief cantor position at the prestigious Congregation KJ in New York City. Along with the most talented Yossi Pomorantz who has recently moved to the states from a long-time tenure as chief cantor across the border in Montreal, Canada. Opening the evening was Rockland’s very own Chazan Naphtali Marrus with his applauded rendition of Rapoport’s Elu Dvarim.
Accompanying the Chazonim on the piano was the famed Cantor Danny Gildar – who has toured the world with some of the greatest cantors ever – was on full display all evening long.