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Herschman, Mordechai


HERSCHMAN, MORDECHAI (1888–1940), ḥazzan. Born in the Ukrainian town of Chernigov, Herschman, a lyric tenor, sang in a number of synagogue choirs before obtaining his first post as a ḥazzan in the "choral" synagogue of Zhitomir. In 1913, after only five months at Zhitomir, he was appointed chief ḥazzan of Vilna. During World War i he was conscripted into the Russian army reserve, but a senior officer was so impressed by his voice that he exempted him from duty so that he could continue to officiate as a ḥazzan. In 1920, he emigrated to the United States, where he was appointed ḥazzan of the Beth El Temple of Brooklyn, New York, a position he held for 10 years. Afterward he made many concert tours in Europe, Palestine, and the U.S. Herschman was notable for the warmth of his singing as well as for his ḥazzanic style, which was deeply influenced by the melodic elements of biblical cantillation and the traditional cantillation of Talmud study. His cantorial and folk song records were very popular, and it was his rendering that made P. *Jassinowsky's Ve-Hayyah be-Aharit ha-Yamim ("And it shall come to pass at the End of Days") famous.


Sendrey, Music, no. 9970; A. Rozen, Di Geshikhte fun Khazones (1924), 122.

[Joshua Leib Ne'eman]

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