The urge to organize has come over the Jewish Minister’s Cantor’s Association of America and 300 members assembled at the annual convention of the group yesterday at the Hotel Pennsylvania, resolved to form a code for the betterment of the profession and take steps toward the restoration of the dignity of cantors to the place formerly held by these servants of the Lord.
After hearing Louis J. Gribitz, attorney, any last doubt as to the efficacy of establishing a code was removed from the minds of the assembled cantors.
“This conference,” said Mr. Gribitz, “is an effort to rehabilitate an entire industry. Police, firemen, workers in all lines of endeavor have banded together for the establishment of old age pensions and the protection from unscrupulous persons and organizations. You, too, have to protect yourselves, both from the point of view of survival and the establishment of respect which your position in Israel demands.
“There are four million Jews who enjoy your singing. They demand of you a pleasing appearance, artistic delivery, fine dress. But for this, they give little. Provision must be made by the Jewish communities for its cantors.”
“In the past,” continued Mr. Gribitz, “the cantor held a high place in the Jewish community. He was respected, honored and cared for as befitted his position. Today the elementary needs of existence are not granted to cantors.”
Mr. Gribitz urged the adoption of a standard form of contract to be used by all cantors in their contracts with synagogues. He specified that this contract should be rigidly enforced.
“You have no right,” he said, “to injure the art and dignity of your profession by standing in line, permitting yourselves to be examined by synagogue committees who wouldn’t know good singing if they heard it.
“You have chosen a profession and you, competent and experienced men, are entitled to earn a living in an honorable manner. The cantor who stays outside the association, or who doesn’t live up to its rules, is a disgrace to cantoring and Jewry.”
Bernard Semel, honorary secretary of the Jewish Education Association, was the other principal speaker at the session of the convention. He delivered an inspirational talk. Rev. Asher Goldenberg, president of the Philadelphia Cantors’. Association, was another speaker.
Rev. Martin Adolf served as chairman, Rev. Louis Lipipz is chairman of the association; Rev. J### Rapaport was chairman of the morning session and Rev. E. Spivak was chairman of the afternoon session. Harold Brodwin served as secretary. Rev. Benjamin Livitt and Rev. Louis Lipipz made a report on organization work at the morning session.
Messages were read from President Roosevelt, Governor Lehman and Mayor LaGuardia. Rabbi R. Alstat delivered the opening invocation.