Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music - By Bentzion Shaffer

Another memory of growing up on Fuller Street occurred before we started taking music lessons, so we were less than 12 years old. We had been sent to bed for the night and Daddy, A.H.. went to the room we called the "reception" area which was right next to the front stairs where there was a small sofa and a hi fi to play records. Our father would often play cantorial recordings and as they played he followed the words in the machzor or the siddur taking painstaking care to listen to every single word of the record. He once told me that he was moved by the way the music expressed the meaning of the words and would follow the English translation to understand every nuance. Our father loved classical music and had even taken some courses in music. In fact, he had once told me that if he had his life to live over again, he would want to be a composer.

Cantorial music, however, was much more. It helped him quench a certain thirst for Judaism because he was part of the lost generation and had not had a decent Jewish education.

We were all supposed to be sleeping, but our bedroom was right next to the reception area and Gedaliah and I could hear the music playing very softly. Not only were we awake and listening, but, in order to hear better, I had opened the door slightly and I was lying in bed with my head hanging off the foot of the bed to hear better. It wasn't too long before we were discovered, but instead of being angry, it strengthened Daddy's resolve to give us music lessons. Not long after that, they enrolled us in the Boston Music School where I studied violin and Gedaliah studied piano.

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