The Official Leibele Waldman Blog

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Waldman and Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt

Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, c. 1898
My father had long admired the great artistry of Rosenblatt and many were the services and concerts that he and my grandfather Chaim Rueven had attended.

At one particular concert, for the benefit of a Yeshiva on the East Side, all of the best cantors in New York were in attendance. When Cantor Rosenblatt stood up, a hush fell upon the audience. He was the smallest of all the star cantors and the most beloved.

There were cries of "Sing your masterpieces, Yossele," and other intimate remarks. He smiled to the vast group and seemed happy to be among them. My father was impressed with his humility and gentlemanly ways.

Needless to say, the crowd was filled with ecstasy as he sang. Rosenblatt's voice was not as loud as the others, but his sweetness not one possessed. His appeal was to the Jewish heart and none could resist him. Thunderous applause burst from the listeners and he, modest as always, bowed in appreciation. Rosenblatt sang two more numbers and my father, in complete awe and admiration, forgot that he too was on the program!

Cantor Rosenblatt turned an amused glance toward the younger cantor. My father was announced as the next performer. Rosenblatt must have guessed what my father was thinking, for he nodded very knowingly to him, full of encouragement.

And this is how my father and Yossele Rosenblatt met. Over the years they would share the stage together and remain in touch.

Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt
At Rosenblatt's last New York concert, he invited my father to join him. My father had two affairs the night of the concert, but Rosenblatt prolonged the show so he could get there by 11:30 pm. When my father arrived, the golden voice of Cantor Rosenblatt floated through the open windows. He went inside and took a seat in the back of the room. Rosenblatt motioned for him to come up to the front of the room. With his hand affectionately placed on my father's shoulder, Cantor Rosenblatt led him to the center of the pulpit.

"Good friends, I don't know whether some of you may have heard that I am leaving for Palestine. We are in G-d's hands, and who knows whether I shall come back." There was protest among the audience to these words. He then introduced my father to the audience as "the greatest of the young talent that we have today."

My father sang that night full of inspiration and with feelings of pride and accomplishment.

This was a turning point in my father's career. It brought him confidence to produce unique compositions, and style, which is still compared by many to Yossele Rosenblatt.