Cantor Manny Silver: Look what I get to do
“My gift for singing is really God within me. Your special gift is that too.”
Once a week for nearly a year, Cantor Manny meets with 12-year-old Raquel.
Together they practice the 21 Hebrew torah verses he has assigned.
Her Bat Mitzvah is in May and Cantor Manny still must see that she learns to speak Hebrew with proper vocal pitch, understand the English translation of the verses, write a personal speech and learn how to lead the congregation service that day. Raquel will then be recognized as an adult in the Jewish religion.
Cantor Manny says he loves getting to know the kids.
“When I was a kid I was too scared to talk to the rabbi or cantor.”
At Temple Beth El 1351 S. 14th Avenue in Hollywood, it’s different.
“We understand that it’s not like in the old days when synagogues were the center of social life. If a kid can’t make his or her Bar/Bat Mitzvah lesson, then I will skype with them when they are available. I adapt.
We have adapted many things here. A family can celebrate this rite of passage without having to be a Temple Beth El member.
For Cantor Manny Silver, what remains a constant is his love for singing.
“I always sing. I sing when i am driving in my white Hundyai Tucson. I sing while I am shopping at Publix. I used to sing at 5am when I was a Philadelphia kid delivering the Philadelphia Inquirer. Look, I had a strong Jewish background, a love of singing and Cantor Moshe Shulhof as my mentor. A trifecta. A cantor is the natural place for me to be.
The best thing about being a cantor is that I see people through all their major life events, birth, marriage, bar mitzvah, death. I tutored one girl for her Bat Mitzvah and years later she asked me to sing in her wedding. I get lots of satisfaction seeing everyone’s accomplishments.
I also entertain at condominiums, sometimes I sing Jewish songs there. I have always been an entertainer.
People say I don’t look like a cantor. Maybe that is because I have too much fun. Maybe that’s because I used to write the Daily Racing Form at the Aqueduct Racetrack, a place where I learned a very important lesson:
Sometimes the long shots do come in.
Look what I get to do. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, I have 1,000 people come listen to me sing.
That is my long shot.