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Chazzanut Online - Articles

Aaron Fuchsman

1892 - 1969


By Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler

Aaron Fuchsman was born in Zytomirs, in the province of the Ukraine. He received his musical training in the Petrograd Conservatoire and obtained his first pulpit in Warsaw. He then went to be Chazan of the principal Synagogue in Antwerp from where he travelled and concertised extensively in Europe, as well as in America.

While he was in Antwerp he was heard by two Glaswegians who approached him to become Chazan of the Langside Synagogue, Cromwell Road, in Glasgow. He accepted their offer and became the first Chazan to be appointed by that Shul. He remained there for five years.

On 3rd April 1929 Chazan Fuchsman was a participant in a contest held by Columbia to find new recording artistes. At this event he was greatly acclaimed, becoming one of the finalists, and from available cuttings of that time it would appear that he was actually chosen to record for the company.

A local newspaper reported as follows:

"Chazan Fuchsman is possessed of a rich baritone voice in the middle register. He has a wide range and his beautiful lyrical voice has fine tonal qualities. He is gifted not only with a splendid voice, but also with exquisite artistry. His interpretations of a sacred song in Hebrew and of Tchaikovsky's "Tonight" were a sheer delight to listen to..."

As well as his success in this competition, he was also broadcasting for the BBC, when he usually sang liturgical or Yiddish numbers. In 1927 he was paid a fee of two guineas for singing 'A Dudele' and 'Ki Lekach Tov.'

Amongst his cuttings from Glasgow, appears the following interesting snippet:

"Rev Fuchsman was at his best at the first Selichot at Cromwell Road Synagogue. He indeed exceeded the expectations of the congregant. The choir, which assisted Rev Fuchsman, has much improved this year." (!)

With the exposure he was receiving, it is not surprising that he was encouraged to come to London, and in 1933 Chazan Fuchsman was appointed to East London Synagogue, Stepney Green, a position he held with great distinction for 22 years.

Rev Fuchsman soon made a name for himself as an outstanding Chazan among many fine Chazanim that London was blessed with in the years between the wars, and people would flock in vast numbers to participate in the exquisite services that he conducted.

To this day there are many who can still recall those services. They were days in which, if you didn't arrive early, you probably wouldn't get a seat, and when Rosh Hashana mornings rarely concluded before 3.00pm!

After he retired, Chazan Fuchsman returned to live in Glasgow with his family, where he continued to conduct services from time to time. Indeed, when his granddaughter Sylvia got married, he sang Sheva Berachot, and received a standing ovation for it!

After he died in 1969, a most fitting memorial service was held for him at the East London Synagogue.

(From material supplied by Chazan Fuchsman's granddaughter, Sylvia Fink)

© Copyright Rabbi G. Shisler

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