Singing is a family tradition

CHAZAN Yehezkel Braun is continuing a family tradition of fathers singing with their sons, and he has a new CD to share the music with the community.

As a boy, Braun and his four brothers sang in shul in Tel Aviv with his father, Shabtai, who was the shul’s chazan.

When the Jerusalem-born cantor settled in Australia and was appointed chief chazan of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation in 1992 – a position he held for 15 years – it was not long before his twin sons, Yisrael and Yehuda, joined him singing in shul.

“I have continued the same tradition singing with my boys,” says Chazan Braun. “They have been singing with me since they were six, both at Caulfield shul and at shabbatot and functions.”

Yisrael and Yehuda, now 12, are students at Yesodei HaTorah College in Melbourne. Chazan Braun, who now teaches at the Jewish Music Centre that he established in East St Kilda, has just released a new CD featuring popular songs and chazzanut titled There We Shall Sing.

“This is the first CD I’ve made for the public,” he told The AJN. “When I was chazan at Caulfield shul people kept saying it was such beautiful music and that I should make a CD, but at the time I was too busy with my duties there.

“Now I have done it. I wanted to make it light chazzanut rather than heavy cantorial music. It appeals to even those who are not great ­chazzanut lovers. There are 10 songs from the great cantors and composers. Each song is a gem. It’s something that I love doing.”

Chazan Braun’s musical education began with his father, Chazan Shabtai Braun, who was for many years the chazan in the Central Synagogue in North Tel Aviv.

Chazan Braun studied at Be’er-Ya’akov Yeshivah and Chevron Yeshivah, were he received his smicha.

While living in Israel, he performed in concerts and as a guest chazan at shuls in Tel Aviv, Ramat-Gan and Haifa. He also served in the Israeli army as a chazan and travelled overseas to sing in shuls in Berlin, Glasgow, and New York.

Chazan Braun and his sons perform at weddings, bar mitzvahs and special functions such as Chanukah at Parliament House.

At the Jewish Music Centre, Chazan Braun teaches music to students of all ages.

“A man recently came to me to learn how to lead the seder service because his children were not so happy with his performance,” he says.

“And I have bar mitzvah boys who not only want to know their parshah, but also want to lead the service.”

Chazan Braun says he also treats people who have problems with their singing voice, such as hoarseness, using the Alexander technique.

The There We Shall Sing CD is available from Jewish bookstores and the Jewish Music Centre. Enquiries: (03) 9530 0217.

REPORT: Danny Gocs

PHOTO: Chazan Yehezkel Braun sings with sons Yisrael (left) and Yehuda.