David Roitman

Cantor David Roitman sings "Av Haachamim."


David Roitman (1884–1943), "the poet of the pulpit," was one of the leading virtuoso cantors of the Golden Age of Hazzanut in America, celebrated equally for his vocal artistry along classical lines and his quintessentially eastern European improvisatory approach. He was also noted for his ability to fuse the musically cultivated and vocally schooled art of cantorial performance with the craft of the skilled ba'al t'filla (lay precentor or cantor)—a craft that involves the artful manipulation of the nuances of an intricate modal system of patterns, formulas, and prescribed motifs for rendering the liturgy. This canonized system is rooted in centuries of practice and refinement (nusah hat'filla, or the "accepted, historically established way or manner of liturgical rendition").

Roitman was born in Derezinke, a village in Russian Podolia (now Ukraine). At the age of twelve he became a m'shorer (choral assistant) to the shtot hazzan in Lidvinke, where his family had relocated. The shtot hazzan (community or city cantor) was either a quasi-official post—or was perceived as such—in many eastern European cities, or it was the position of cantor at a particular synagogue known as the community or city synagogue (shtot shul). His parents were soon approached by a well-known cantor from Odessa, Yankel Soroker—who was then the shtot hazzan in Uman, the Ukraine—with an invitation for the young Roitman to be apprenticed to him...
Courtesy of the the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music.

To read more about Cantor Roitman, please click here.

















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