Chasan (Cantor)

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Cantor's concert in the Vienna City Temple

Chasan [ χaˈzan ] ( Hebrew חַזָּן, translit .: ẖazzan; Pl .: Chasanim , fem. Pl .: Chasanot , Yiddish Chasn ) or cantor is called the prayer leader in a synagogue or Jewish community .

The name Chasan goes back to the time of the Roman Empire and was initially used for the representative of the Archisynagogus , d. H. used by the head of a Jewish community. This was an honorable task: In the Codex Theodosianus of 438 its owners were exempt from taxes, and Pope Gregory the Great confirmed this provision in 600. In the purely musical area, in the sense of a prayer leader, the chasan has been documented since the 9th century . The function of prayer leader in Jewish worship was passed on from father to son in the Middle Ages . At that time a Khazan also had to be able to perform pijjutim , i.e. H. Hymns to write and set to music.

In rabbinical times, any member of the congregation could act as a prayer leader. In principle, this still applies today; However, since the Jewish liturgy is very difficult and a beautiful voice is desired, this function developed into an independent profession in the Gaonian period.

Traditionally, in addition to a good voice, the chasan is required to have a great knowledge of the Jewish liturgy, but above all ethical behavior and piety. In the first half of the 20th century, famous Ashkenazi Khazanim came from Russia and made careers in the USA , such as Jossele Rosenblatt and Zevulun Kwartin . The Berlin cantor Estrongo Nachama and Joseph Schmidt became known in Germany .

Today training centers are mainly in the USA ( New York ), Israel and Great Britain . In Germany, cantors are now also being trained at the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam . The first cantor trained there was introduced to his office in June 2009. In liberal parishes , women (Chasanot) can also hold the office of cantor.

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