Monday, May 20, 2019

The NY cantors: Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, Azi Schwartz and Netanel Hershtik.

Cantor Netanel Hershtik at a recent concert in Munich.

Netanel Hershtik can now be heard on El Al’s infotainment system.

Some people dream of going on a kosher cruise to enjoy the famous chazanim who will be leading services and performing. Others go to Pesach programs for the same reason, while there are those who go to Manhattan to attend live concerts featuring famous cantors. If you enjoy cantorial music but don’t like to travel or don’t have the time, the Young Israel of Teaneck (YIOT) has some good news. On March 8-9, the YIOT will host the Joseph Dresdner, z”l, Memorial Shabbat Chazzanut, featuring world-renowned Cantor Netanel Hershtik and the Hampton Synagogue Choir, conducted by Izchak Haimov.

Hershtik has been busy since last year’s Shabbat Chazzanut. Recently El Al launched a new channel on their infotainment system featuring Hershtik’s music. The channel came about following the visit of Yoram Elgrabli, El Al’s chairman in New York, to the Hampton Synagogue. After services he told Hershtik and Rabbi Marc Schneier how he wished he could play Netanel’s songs on El Al, and Hershtik worked with El Al to make it happen. Last year he also made his operatic debut with the Royal Opera House, one of the world’s leading opera companies.

Last March he was featured in a new PBS production, The NY Cantors, featuring three cantors and recorded live in concert at the famed Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. Hershtik collaborated with Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, and Azi Schwartz, a native of Israel and cantor at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue. WNET will broadcast The NY Cantors 12 times from March through June in anticipation of the NY Cantors performance at the upcoming concert at Summerstage in Central Park in June, hosted by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.

During what has become an annual event, Cantor Hershtik will lead the Friday evening services at the YIOT on March 8, as well as both Shacharit and Musaf during Shabbat services at the 9 a.m. minyan on March 9. The entire community is invited to attend.

Hershtik and the choir prepare extensively prior to coming to Teaneck. As Hershtik shared, “The baal tefillah plays an important role in the Shabbat service.
Attending a service with a baal tefillah who doesn’t know how to daven is like sitting at a table with spoiled soup and a burned chicken. Of course that’s a joke, but not entirely. What I mean is that the more you invest in beautifying the service, the more spiritual it is. And the more spiritual it is, the more it goes straight to the heart. When someone goes up to daven from the amud and isn’t prepared, the service is lacking and people don’t respect the service because it becomes tedious and uninspiring. That’s when people talk, and decorum is gone. My message is that we need to be inspired by Shabbat. We’re supposed to make Shabbat something special. We’re supposed to anticipate it and invest in the beauty of it, in the taste, in the flavor.”

Dr. Ronald Gross told The Jewish Link, “When I’m in Jerusalem I like to go to the Great Synagogue on Friday night to enjoy whatever chazan they have leading davening. Shabbat Chazzanut brings that experience right here to Teaneck. Netanel’s davening is so heartfelt and pure, it elevates the davening for all in attendance.”

“We are so excited to once again be hosting Netanel and the Hampton Synagogue Choir,” said Rabbi Binyamin Krohn, rabbi of the Young Israel of Teaneck. “Shabbat Chazzanut always brings a unique energy and excitement to our davening, and it is so special to see so many people come from far and wide to join us in tefillah on this special Shabbat.”

Hershtik began singing as a child, appearing regularly as a soloist in the Jerusalem Great Synagogue with his father, Cantor Naftali Hershtik. At the age of 7 he toured with his father in Australia, throughout America and Europe. Today Hershtik lives in Teaneck, is chief cantor of the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York, and has previously performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and many of the world’s leading choirs, and sung at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Sydney Opera House and the Casino de Paris, among other leading venues.

The Young Israel of Teaneck is located at 868 Perry Lane in Teaneck. For more information on Shabbat Chazzanut, email [email protected].

By Sara Kosowsky Gross