Musical Preservation


In Jewish media, we often write about the importance of remembering and preserving our heritage while also ensuring that darker periods of our history don’t overshadow our resilience. While so much has been written and continues to be written about Holocaust survivors and their stories, I am continually amazed at we can uncover in our own backyard.

In this week’s cover story, Connor Graham tells the story of Cantor Sholom Kalib, an 88-year-old on a mission to preserve a body of cantorial music that was lost to time when the communities that sang these songs were torn apart during World War II.

Kalib’s exhaustive volumes of “The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue,” which cover music that can be traced back to Western Central Europe, include sheet music, annotations and historical context.

He’s gotten through half of his planned five volumes, which are broken up by ritualistic purpose. He expects to release the second part of Sabbath Day prayers, his third volume, this year, followed by prayers from festival services and High Holidays in volumes four and five.

Kalib and recently retired Chizuk Amuno Congregation Hazzan Manny Perlman are in agreement that there is something elevated about this music, that it hearkens back to a time when cantors’ roles were more prominent.

“The circumstances about how congregations felt about hearing certain prayers, that psyche has gone with that society,” Kalib said. While modern-day cantors might disagree, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t something special about these tunes from the old country.

While working on this issue of the JT, our world stopped — as did that of the entire local media community — when a horrific shooting took place on June 28 at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, leaving five people dead.

In the Voices section, I get a little sentimental, as my first journalism job was at The Maryland Gazette. I can honestly say I would not be at the Baltimore Jewish Times writing this column had my career not been shaped by the editors and reporters there.

This week, we remember Gerald Fischman of Silver Spring, an editorial writer who was one of the victims.

Also in this issue, we continue to follow the news on immigration, which has been ruling the headlines and the airwaves nationally and internationally. Our editorial board tackles the Supreme Court decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban, while I spoke to local rabbis about their activism on the issue and political reporter Dan Schere offers dispatches from Saturday’s rally in Washington, D.C.

Happy reading!

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