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December 07, 2004

Kantormania!

I have a odd - yet I think understandable - obsession with "News of the Jews" when I'm here in Austria. It might be because it's Hannukah, or maybe it's just the melodramatic "Last of the Mohicans" mindset I get in to when I'm here in the village. I'm trying to find my people, don't you know.

At any rate, I ferret out the little bits and pieces of news related to the tribe. Sometimes it's an Austrian Jewish ex-pat artist, returned to Europe to have a retrospective. More often there's a story about another old Nazi that's been found or an discussion of anti-semitism. In rare cases, there's a recognition and celebration about a Jewish cultural icon.

‘‘Happy Birthday Salomon Sulzer,’’ it proclaims, in public celebration of the 200th birthday of one of the town’s most famous sons — a flamboyant 19th-century Jewish cantor. Born in 1804, Salomon Sulzer served for more than 60 years as the cantor of the main synagogue in Vienna. He revolutionized cantorial style and singing and left an impact on synagogue music that is still felt today.

Cantorial style? Even to me, this seems mighty obscure. Still, I'm always heartened but whatever oddball thing the Austrians choose to recognize about this formerly significant sector of their population. From the country that said "we don't have an anti-Semite problem because we have no Jews" (I will have to hunt for attribution on that) , this is an unusual and welcome tribute.

Posted by pam at December 7, 2004 11:47 PM | TrackBack
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