Leon Kahn of Washington Heights, NY a member of the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union, was recently appointed President of the Cantorial Council of America (CCA), the only international organization made up only of Shabbat-observant cantors. Members of the organization reside in the United States, Canada, Israel, and Europe.
CCA is an affiliate of Yeshiva University’s Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music; both are under the umbrella of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), YU’s rabbinical school.
Mr. Kahn, whose day job is as an ingredient processor for the OU, also serves on Shabbat and Yom Tov as a professional chazzan (cantor), a job to which he brings over thirty years of experience.
“I started singing in an elementary school chorus under the famous musician choir conductor Seymour Silbermintz, a”h” said Mr. Kahn, speaking of his childhood in Washington Heights in Northern Manhattan. “Additionally, my father was a ba’al tefillah (prayer service leader), and so that helped, as well.”
Mr. Kahn, a tenor, was elected to his CCA presidential post at CCA’s 49th annual convention, which recently took place at Kutsher’s Country Club in the Catskill Mountains of New York. As president, he will be responsible for organizing the yearly summer convention and other programs throughout the year.
Mr. Kahn is still in his old neighborhood; he has been the official chazzan of Washington Heights Congregation, also known as “the Bridge Shul” for its proximity to the George Washington Bridge, for the past twenty years. Before that, he spent ten years as the chazzan of Congregation Adereth-El, located in midtown Manhattan.
He declared, “The CCA is not in the entertainment business, but in the business to preserve and maintain authentic nusach tefillah (liturgy). As the CCA is now in its fiftieth year, I hope to plan a number of events celebrating that achievement.”