This is a fact: Rabbis and cantors have differing visions and that often leads to conflict on and off the bimah.
This is not the case at Congregation Beth Israel of the Palisades.
We do not believe in too much “formality.” We do believe in participatory services with lots of congregational singing, and interactive learning.
That is the “ruach,” the spirited atmosphere, our rabbi promotes.
And that is the ruach our cantor promotes, as well.
Chazzan Jerry Blum is right there with Rabbi Engelmayer—the perfect partner. They share the same vision of what services should be like. And the chemistry between our rabbi and our cantor makes even better what already was a great thing.
Chazzan Jerry Blum was raised in the Hollis Hills area of Queens, N.Y., almost literally at the feet of one of the great cantors of our day, Chazzan Sol Zim.
While he is a lifelong student of Chazzan Zim (who recommended him to us), Chazzan Blum’s cantorial education began at home, where he grew up listening to recordings of the cantorial masters his father would play day and night. This is how Chazzan Blum fell in love with the beauty of cantorial music specifically, and music in all forms generally. Chazzan Blum knew at a very early age that all music—from Rock ‘n’ Roll to Folk to Opera, but especially Jewish music—was in his blood.
Over the years, “Chazzan Jerry,” as he likes to be called, sang with many different cantors as part of their choirs and even accompanying them on piano. In doing so, Chazzan Blum developed a very engaging and welcoming style. He also agrees with Rabbi Engelmayer that a singing community is a holy community, and so he maintains the CBIOTP tradition of facilitating as much congregational singing as possible.
Over the years, Chazzan Blum has studied privately with some of the great chazzanim of our time. He also served as a visiting cantor in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and even in Curacao. He is currenty a student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, N.Y., for ordination as a rabbi, as well as investiture as a cantor.
Before focusing on the Jewish world, Chazzan Blum had a long career in the Financial Services industry. He served in various sales and management positions with many of the large financial institutions in New York and Connecticut.
Chazzan Blum is an accomplished and creative educator, having taught in many synagogues in the Metropolitan New York area, and was a lead educator for United Synagogue Youth. He loves working with children and adults and sharing his love for all things Jewish.
That is why Chazzan Blum is not only our cantor, but also our “Director of Community Engagement.” He brings his extensive business experience to help bring new families into our communal fold.
Chazzan Blum lives on Long Island with his wife Arlyn. Between them, they have two daughters and one son.
Chazzan Blum can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org