Cantor Benny's Blog

Cantor Benny's Blog

Cantor Benny's Blog

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Kol Nidrey in the ICU - A night to remember

Sunday, October 23, 2016
Kol Nidrey in the ICU - A night to remember

On Kol Nidrey night after davening, Chazzan Helfgot and I decided to walk to Cornell hospital to visit a young Lubavicher Chossid who was in the hospital. Picture this scene: Intensive Care ward, a young man in his early forties lying in bed connected to so many different life saving machines and the two of us standing by his side singing the songs and melodies of Yom Kippur. Read more

Close the Book, Open your Heart

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Close the Book, Open your Heart

We are on the eve of the solemn and auspicious “opening night” of Selichot. Traditionally, Jews around the world gather at midnight in the week preceding the New Year to pray in the synagogue and usher in the High Holiday season. These coming thirty days are going to be the “busiest” synagogue days of the year. Jews who very rarely see the inside of a sanctuary will make it their business to attend all or part of services during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Read more

A Minyan and a Milestone

Thursday, February 18, 2016
A Minyan and a Milestone

Today marks a very important second anniversary in my life. Two years of not missing a Minyan! I am sharing with you what I wrote on this very day last year, in the days following the post I received dozens of emails and PM of people sharing their own personal stories and thanking me for sharing mine. I hope the post continues to inspire. Read more

A walk down memory lane

Wednesday, January 06, 2016
A walk down memory lane

Twenty nine years ago today in a beautiful shul in Johannesburg South Africa, I was called up to the Torah for the first time, I had just turned 13 years old. It was Shabbos Morning Parshat Shmot and, towards the end of Torah reading I heard my name being called. I couldn’t escape it. Yes! The Gabbai was right. He had my full correct name and that of my Fathers. I walked over sheepishly to the Bima and in a voice barely audible I recited the Brachot for the Maftir. I recall as if it were just yesterday how I felt. My heart was pounding and racing a mile a minute. I was afraid that in a moment my heart would escape my body. In my young imagination I thought every member of the congregation could hear the thumping of my heart beat. I was so embarrassed. Read more

Three Candles and a Tear

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Three Candles and a Tear

Chanukah, by all accounts, is one of the most joyful holidays on the Jewish calendar. In my mind's eye, it has always been centered around children - seeing beautiful, young, smiling faces as they light the menorah, sing the beautiful Chanukah songs, spin the Dreidel, and of course, who can forget the presents? Read more

The Difference between Girls and Boys

Friday, August 07, 2015
The Difference between Girls and Boys

For the first time ever, my three “babies” are all away at sleep away camp. Since the camps do not allow phone communication, I am left waiting for those precious letters that come from camp. I never thought that I would develop a relationship with the mail man, but believe it or not, I have. I have memorized his route down pat. I know what time he shows up at my building, and I make it my business to meet him, so as to not miss out an extra moment on reading my children’s communication. Read more

A Bat Mitzvah to Remember

Monday, August 03, 2015
A Bat Mitzvah to Remember

Tonight I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life. About a year ago, when my princess was just turning 11, I sat down to consider what sort of Bat Mitzvah she would have. I wanted this moment to be one that she would never forget, filled with beautiful and meaningful experiences. A friend of mine suggested connecting with a well known orphanage in Jerusalem, and adopting a girl around the same age as my daughter. So about ten months ago, we did just that. The two girls developed an amazing pen pal communication. They wrote letters, they shared jokes and spoke about their dreams and life experiences. Read more

Finding G-d on the D Line

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Finding G-d on the D Line

Today was a very difficult day. My fourteen year old boy lost his Tefillin on the subway. I was sitting in my office around lunch time, when I saw my phone “blowing up” with calls and texts. For a boy who is short on the spoken word, something was clearly up. I picked up the phone, only to hear a frantic, and crying boy, trying to express himself. In between gasps for air and excitement, I finally understood that there was an incident on the train, and all passengers were evacuated off the train, and in the commotion, he had left his Tefillin in the train. Read more

Alone at the Seder

Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Alone at the Seder

Pesach, by all accounts, is the apex of all family time. A survey taken last year by UJA revealed that over 77% of Jews celebrate some form of Seder. Growing up, these were the most profound and memorable moments of my youth. The intense preparation and cleaning in the weeks before Pesach (to which I was mostly an observer), the beautiful Seder table, set with such precision and elegance, and the image of my parents, family, and guests sitting at the Seder is one that will be etched in my heart and mind forever.  Read more