From Szatmar to the New World is the story of Max Wohlberg's odyssey from a yeshiva in Hungary to the pinnacle of the American cantorate.
Wohlberg's influential career as a cantor and educator is depicted against a background of social and cultural ferment. Readers are given a behind-the-scenes tour of rarely explored areas of American Jewish musical life: cantorial organizations at war with one another, demeaning auditions, the adulation of cantorial “superstars,” and the controversy over the investiture of women as cantors.
Wohlberg's long career paralleled the development of cantorial life in America, including the creation of modern cantorial music and the initiation of formal cantorial education. In his personal life, which was marked by good humor and total dedication to his calling, he personified the ideal cantor—someone who, as he put it, was “able to use his abilities in the service of the Almighty.”
Charles Davidson — Charles Davidson is the Nathan Cummings Professor of Nusah he-Tefillah at the H. L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
He also serves as hazzan of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He is a composer of note, his works including the song cycle “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” based on poems by the children of Terezin. The father of four, he lives with his wife, Frances, in the suburbs of Philadelphia.