Cantor Jeff's Resources


Cantor Jeff Warschauer
TJC Newsletter Article for December 2018

 
In connection with this article, please click on this direct link to the recording discussed: https://rsa.fau.edu/album/42772
Be sure to scroll down to the online player and click on "Veshomru."
 
From the TJC Archives:
More Jewish Music of Comfort and Peace
 
Dear TJC friends,
 
Last month, in response to the state of the world, my TJC newsletter article was entitled “A Bridge Over Troubled Water: Jewish Songs of Peace, Joy and Community.”
 
Since then, given the world-shaking, terrible events of Pittsburgh and beyond, I would like to continue offering music that I hope, as I wrote last month, “can help comfort us and lift our spirits.”
 
A short time ago, TJC stalwart, dear friend to so many of us, and in short, complete mentsh Gil Gordon came to me with a unique piece of TJC history. Gil had volunteered to clean and organize the TJC archives, and part of what he uncovered there was a set of 78-rpm recordings.
 
“Cantor, can you do anything with these?”
 
Well, indeed I can.
 
The majority of the records that Gil gave me were recorded by Cantor Samuel Malavsky and his family ensemble “Singers of Israel,” including the gorgeous “V’shomru” featured in this article.
 
My first cantorial teacher, the world-class hazzan and scholar Noah Schall, writes about Hazzan Malavsky and his family:
 
“Samuel Malavsky (1894-19?/unverified) was born in Smela, near Kiev, Ukraine. As a youth, he sang in the choirs of many cantors. After he came to the United States in 1914, he auditioned for Yossele Rosenblatt, and thereupon began their long association. […] Malavsky officiated at several congregations. Then, in 1947, he formed the Malavsky family choir, ‘Singers of Israel,’ with his two sons and four daughters. […] Malavsky created a unique style for this choir, introducing an up-beat syncopation into the traditional melodies.”
 
I love these recordings! Malavsky, as a protégé of Hazzan Yosele Rosenblatt, was a consummate musician and singer. His improvised elaborations are intricate and emotional, and always appropriate to the sacred text, without ever going “over-the-top” into gratuitous showmanship. And the contributions of his family, including his daughters (“The Four Chazentes”), are musically imaginative, beautifully sung, and just plain fun to listen to!
 
As I noted last month, we’ve set up a new section on the TJC website called “Cantor Jeff’s Resources.” I’ve posted a link there in connection with this article. So I invite you to go to the shul website, www.thejewishcenter.org, and listen to the Malavsky family’s  “V’shomru” as you read.
 
Here is a direct link to the recording: https://rsa.fau.edu/album/42772
Be sure to scroll down to the online player and click on "Veshomru."
 
Most of us are familiar with V’shamru, from the Shabbat liturgy:
 
V’shamru v’nei yisrael et ha-shabbat, la-asot et ha-shabbat l’dorotam b’rit olam. Beini u-vein b’nei yisrael ot hi l’olam, ki sheishet yamim asah Ad-nai et ha-shamayim v’et ha-aretz, u-vayom ha-sh’vi-i shavat vayinafash.
 
“The people Israel shall observe Shabbat, maintaining it as an everlasting covenant throughout all generations. It is a sign between Me and the people Israel for all time, that in six days Ad-nai made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day, ceased from work and rested.”
(Transliteration and translation adapted from Siddur Lev Shalem)
 
In accordance with my goal of featuring music to comfort and uplift us, I’ve selected this recording because to me, this wonderful rendition embodies both the great joy and the deep yearning of the Shabbat day.
 
The entire piece is gentle and sweet. But listen especially to the last line of the prayer:
 
U-vayom ha-sh’vi-i shavat vayinafash
And on the seventh day, [God] ceased from work and rested.”
 
Malavsky’s gorgeous, delicate falsetto, portraying God (and us!) resting, is heartrendingly peaceful and tender.
 
I think that this beautiful V’shamru is great balm for how so many of us are feeling these days.
 
Deborah and I send you, your families and your loved ones our warmest and most heartfelt wishes for a peaceful and joyous Hanukkah!
 
Cantor Jeff