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I en­joyed and em­pathized with “Can­tor wanted: Must have a won­der­ful voice” (Septem­ber 20). Un­til mak­ing aliyah nearly seven years ago, I had dav­ened for over six decades in one of the large north­west Lon­don United Sy­n­a­gogues. Great im­por­tance was placed on the cus­toms of nusah Anglia in which both the rabbi and hazan were well versed. Not just nusah – but ev­ery hag also came with its own pack­age of melodies for “Yig­dal”

in the evening ser­vice and Hal­lel in Sha­harit. Dif­fer­ent tunes were also sung on the three fes­ti­vals and yamim nora’im for the tak­ing out and putting back of the To­rah scrolls.

In Is­rael, those ex­tra frills do not ex­ist, but cor­rect nusah should still be fun­da­men­tal to lead­ing a ser­vice here as well. I do, how­ever, feel that there is room for ap­pro­pri­ate vari­a­tion, and I ac­tu­ally dis­agree with Olive­stone’s com­ments about the re­cent com­po­si­tion of “Ohila La’el.” The melody is not only beau­ti­ful but en­tirely in keep­ing with the mean­ing of the words, and I have – af­ter some soul-search­ing – sub­sti­tuted this for the nusah recita­tive when lead­ing ser­vices. The prayer is de­signed as a per­sonal sup­pli­ca­tion of the hazan, but if the ke­hilla feels in­spired to join in, I feel that this en­hances the at­mos­phere of the oc­ca­sion. There are, of course, three op­por­tu­ni­ties over the yamim nora’im to re­cite the prayer, so the tra­di­tional melody could be used for at least one of th­ese.

I wish all my fel­low shli­hei tz­ibur a Shana Tova and strength to lead the ser­vices free from the first au­tumn sore throats! ALAN MAYS


I quite en­joyed David Olive­stone’s piece. His de­scrip­tions of melodic High Holy Days bring me back to the yamim nora’im of my youth, where “can­tor” was synony­mous with th­ese Days of Awe.

I made aliyah three years ago, and I still miss the pomp and can­to­rial melodies that char­ac­ter­ized the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kip­pur ex­pe­ri­ences of my up­bring­ing. While I am con­tent to forgo the can­to­rial ex­pe­ri­ence here in Is­rael to pray in the same syn­a­gogue as my loved ones, it is heart­en­ing that there are op­tions and that the hazanut of old is revered by new gen­er­a­tions.



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