Friday, July 4, 2008


Actually I do a column called Cantor Banter for the Temple Emanuel Bulletin - a monthly pub. - but the editor thought this was more bloggish - so I am pasting it in here for your reading pleasure. A Glorious Fourth to all. Enjoy!

CANTOR BANTER by Cantor Bob Cohen – JULY 4, 2008

You probably know well how in the old days a Bar Mitzvah boy (in the patriarchal days of Reform Judaism) would start his speech by saying “Today I am a fountain pen!” – which I think reflected that he would receive many such as presents. So I will announce that “Today I am a blogger!”

Actually I have begun blogging in the month of June aided by our very talented, kind, generous, and patient fellow congregant, Bill Ayton, the very same artist who painted the beams in beautiful Hebrew letters in the Cantor Park Memorial Chapel.

Now since you are sitting on the edge of your couch, and not wanting you to fall off, I will inform you that you can see (read?), encounter, consume my blog by going to www.CantorBob and hopefully by the time you read this I will have added a few more goodies.

So far you can see a picture of me (in case you have forgotten what I look like – the summer can do strange things!) and a picture of myself, Jennie Litt and her composer/pianist husband, David Alpher in our cabaret show “Another Serving of Irving (Berlin)” which we had the honor and pleasure of premiering for the Temple Sisterhood about a year or so ago and for which the Sisterhood won an award from the Women for Reform Judaism. Jennie, as I write this, has had a baby with the melodious name: Mirabelle Jasmine Alpher – and we can’t wait ‘til she joins the show!

I have also written a couple of paragraphs about recent (at the time) events. By the time you go to the Blog (short for Weblog) I will hopefully have my three CDs up (so you can listen to samples of each song) and efsha (maybe) some of my old “Godyssey” programs I used to do on Kingston Public Access TV. I thought those would deteriorate into dust, but maybe they will live on in cyberspace. A form of immortality unknown to Methusaleh. So by all means click in and blog out.

In August, Pat and I are planning to visit our grandson, Beecher Woods Robbi on his farm (he is now about one and a half years old) in Eureka in Northern California. Beecher comes from my former wife’s ancestor, Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote a much maligned and misunderstood book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – suffice it to say that Uncle Tom was not an “Uncle Tom” as has become the caricature over the centuries. Woods comes from – well they are in the woods (boondocks as we city dwellers like to say). He is the son of my daughter, Corrina and her husband, Marc Robbi. I gave him a couple of piano lessons when he was just born, and am anxious to see how he has progressed! We will have pictures! And in September we are expecting another grandchild up in Syracuse. More pictures!

I seem to be talking about extra-curricular activities (or moonlighting) in terms of being a Cantor at Temple Emanuel, so let me continue on this path. I have had the pleasure of singing with mezzo-soprano, Sabrina Ferguson Bax in a number of venues, including art galleries around town, and most prominently at A.S.K. Gallery on Broadway (in what used to be the Jewish Community Center). We sang a concert for the closing of Tibor Spitz’s beautiful and moving art show, and will be singing a full concert there sometime in the end of August or beginning of September, so stayed tuned. Sabrina and I have a great time singing Yiddish, Ladino, Armenian, Russian, Slavic and you-name-it songs. We sang a program of Israeli songs for the Kingston Kiwanis Club in celebration of the 60th birthday and perhaps before or after you read this will sing an evening of Yiddish & Ladino songs called “Zing Along!” at Temple.

As August goes into September (remember the old math – the gazintas!) we will be getting ready for the High Holy Days. We hope to have some of the same wonderful young singers as well as our wonderful older ones of last year. And if by some error or senior moment I do not call upon you – please call upon me and join us in song. Carrying a tune is like carrying your soul, your spirit, it’s there, you just have to welcome it in! Which reminds me that we have also started working on a Temple Band which will be participating in Temple Services throughout the year. So bring your instruments – vocal, keys, horns, strings, drums – and let’s make a joyful noise to God!