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Reinstate JTS cantorial dean

To the Editor:

Re: the shameful announcement regarding Dean Henry Rosenblum, JTS always represented to all that worked in the cantorate the middle of the road. Rabonim believed and still believe that they could hold sway on all things concerning the bimah. Chazzonim sometime in the late 1960s began to see their role erode as the "shaliach tzibur," the messenger of the assembly, as paramount and as given to us by law and lore since the Leviim were able to chant the prayers of Israel during our days in the Mishkan in Bamidbar, in the desert.

For me and my fellow chazzonim, this is a truly sad day and an embarrassing one because of JTS’ rank chutzpah and lack of derech eretz. Sans acrimony and disbelief, I saw the quake coming — not only at JTS but in all schools of Jewish higher learning — many years ago.

I will not attempt to reiterate the incredible accomplishments of chazzonim throughout the world as they led our people through the last century through the horrors of the Russian Revolution, the First World War and the Shoah; as chazzonim gathered together the strength to mount the bimah and lifted the hearts and souls of the Jewish multitudes that crammed the synagogues just for the sound of their chazan to get them through another Shabbat while there was no food to eat and the bombs were falling. So it was with my father, Hirsch Leib, of blessed memory, chief cantor of the United Kingdom, giving of himself on a bimah in London while his father and mother perished on the streets of Brussels and worse.

I ask all chazzanim to resist this flagrant disregard for our heritage, law and lore, and not to give in to any intrusion into their authority, for this action by the JTS will give birth to obvious incursions into the realm of the authority of the cantorate. I exhort my fellow chazzonim and those aspiring to the cantorate to resist this devolution and demand the reinstatement of Dean Henry Rosenblum.

David Montefiore
Tucson, Ariz.
Immediate Past President
Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of America
and Canada-Der Chazzonim Farband

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