The cantor or khazan is the main singer of prayers at synagogue. At the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius some very famous cantors have sung, including Mordechajus Geršmanas, Noach Zeludkovsky, Abraomas Bernšteinas and Elias Zaludkowsky. World-famous cantor Josef Malovani also sang at the synagogue in 2002 and he was elected honorary cantor of our synagogue as well.
Since 2008 the original and special cantor Shmuel Yatom has worked at the Choral Synagogue. He is well known throughout the Lithuanian Jewish communities and is constantly invited to them. He is the only professional cantor in Lithuania.
The Vilnius synagogue has established rather strict requirements during the current virus outbreak, requirements which are also recommended by the Lithuanian Government, including taking the temperature of all minyan members, use of face masks, disinfecting pews and door handles and constant ventilation of the space.
Torah reading takes place from the bimah, a raised platform intended exclusively for Torah reading. It is a small space where four people just barely fit: the cantor, two minyan members who supervise the reading of the Torah passage to insure against errors and the guest who reads the words of the blessing. All can wear masks, but this is difficult for the cantor, because the words he reads out must be heard throughout the synagogue by all in attendance there.
A recent meeting of the synagogue’s executive board resolved to recommend the cantor temporarily not travel to events at the regional communities.
In the name of the minyan, we apologize to the communities that the cantor of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will not be able to participate at their important events for the time being.
Simas Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community