A child prodigy who won acclaim singing in other parts of England returned to his home town to sing the age-old songs of his people.
Before an audience of nearly a thousand persons, 13-year-old Simon Bernstein sang the 2,000-year-old melodies of Chanukah in the town in which he was born.
His father, a cantor, left a hospital to hear his only son sing. After the concert he went back to his sickbed. The sonâ€”now the breadwinner of the familyâ€”sang with a haunting beauty he had not displayed before. After the concert he explained to reporters:
“Beforehand I made up my mind to sing as I had never sung before, because it was my father’s wish that I should sing in Manchester, where I was born. When I saw my father weeping in the audience my heart was full, and for his sake I restrained myself from bursting into tears, and little did the audience know that my sobbing was the only outlet to relieve my feelings.”
Because the concert coincided with the opening of the Chanukah festival, it began with the kindling of the lights. Then the boy, descendant of a family of singers, sang the ancient psalms of his people as, in the words of the critic of the Manchester Daily Dispatch, “one three times his age.”