Funeral services were held today for Sholom Katz, a leading cantor in this country and an authority on Jewish music. He died last Saturday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after a heart attack. He was 67 years old.
Katz, who was born in Rumania, was a recognized cantor by the time of his Bar Mitzvah. He was ordained a rabbi at the age of 18 and was chief cantor of Bucharest before he came to the United States after World War II.
During the war he was captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in a concentration camp. He said in later years that when he was forced to dig his own grave in the camp he asked the guard to allow him to sing. He sang the traditional El Molei Rachamin which so moved the guard that he allowed Katz to escape.
KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Katz was the cantor at Beth Sholom Congregation from 1947 to 1957. At the same time, he alternated with the late Cantor Moshe Kussevitsky at the Rumanian Synagogue in New York City’s Lower East Side. He appeared in concert halls and synagogues in this country, Europe, South America, Canada and Israel. He was the first cantor invited to give a series of concerts in Israel after the founding of the State.
In 1946 Katz was invited to Switzerland to sing at the World Zionist Congress. As Dr. Chaim Weizmann delivered a eulogy for the six million Jews who had died in the Holocaust, Katz sang the El Molei Rachamin and added to the traditional text the names of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau and other Nazi death camps. He also sang the traditional song of mourning in the closing scene of the Academy Award-winning movie, “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” and also sang in the film, “The Eichmann Story.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.