Letters to the Virtual Cantor

I have been inspired by the hundreds of email letters that I have received from individuals who have found value in the Virtual Cantor site. I am sharing excerpts from those letters here. Personal identities have been redacted. It is letters like these that provide me with the inspiration to continue recording and improving the hosting of the Virtual Cantor. I thank all of the writers for sharing their thoughts and giving me strength and encouragement. B'ruchim T'hiyu!

Reb Zalman sent me to this site. I can't begin to express my appreciation. The current state of klal yisroel requires that we give continuously and freely to our people who are decimated in their knowledge and skills of what used to be common knowledge. People are so confused and they don't know about the great treasures available to them. I wish to echo all the praise and thanks that I've read from other's who have already written. May you have the energy, health, parnassah, satisfaction, joy to continue your holy work.
I just wanted to let you know that your site has already started to make a difference. My wife and I were raised with a light Jewish education. I have always hesitated to go to shul since I cannot keep up with the prayers. Now that I’ve started to practice, my shyness is waning. While I presently attend a reform temple, since I can follow the service, I am looking forward to learning the prayers so I can feel comfortable in a more traditional setting. Also, I’m looking forward to your creating the daily prayer guide.

I’m also looking forward to learning the daily prayers to share with my children.

Shalom. I'm a Norwegian Jew and member of the Jewish Community of Trondheim which - to my knowledge - is the northernmost Jewish community in the world. We're a tiny community with few resources and an aging population. Amongst the young guard, however, we'd like to beef up our davening by having access to the virtual resources you can offer.
I want to compliment you on your site: kol ha kavod!

I live in a small town in Holland, that has been without a Jewish community since 1942. Last year in a nearby village some Jews and Christians from the surrounding area managed to buy and renovate a tiny old synagogue that had not been used since the 1920's. We now have services there once or twice a month. Your site has been very helpfull in teaching us the necessary melodies for the prayers.

You have done great work, and we are very grateful.

Shabat Shalom, todah

The nusach for weekday shacharit is one that I learned over 30 years ago when I was a camper at Camp Ramah. Although I have been davening within the Orthodox community since 1980, I have rarely heard it used by a shaliach tzibbur. I continue to use it, however, and occasionally someone will say to me "Ah, it's a pleasure to hear someone using the correct nusach..."
Your site is wonderful - This is really a great resource for the Jewish community. Thank you. I grew up in a reform synagogue and now at age 55 have joined a conservadox shul and am newly enrolled in "elder bar mitzvah" lessons.
I'm writing to thank you for your website. I'm chair of the shul, such as it is, in Dundee in Scotland. Dundee is a declining community with a very small number of Jewish people. I was left holding the keys to the synagogue when the person who had kept it going for many years died, and I've tried to keep it going. We've grown from a core of four to about ten, but the community is not really viable, and there's a running question as to whether the shul will have to close.

This year, we divided up the main services between ourselves. I took Kol Nidrei. I used your site to learn the main tunes; my voice went, but it's given us more music than we've had in Dundee for years. Thanks.

Shanah Tovah, AND Wow. I just visited your website.
I have been looking for a nusach contact as I would love to use the proper traditional melodies in my cantorial work.

As a ba'al t'filla, myself, I find it very interesting. The story about learning nusach through being part of a children's choir, also rang true with me. Growing up, we belonged to a Conservative/Reconstructionist synagogue. I must have joined the jr. choir along about 5-6th grade. We didn't sit on the bima though. Rather, we were in a see-through loft *above* the bima! [V.C. comment - we also sang in a loft *once*. That experiment did not work out well.] The synagogue did have a cantor who generally followed traditional nusach. But only generally. Although the choir helped me to become comfortable with the shabbat morning davening, it was at Machaneh Ramah where I really learned the nuschaot for both weekday and shabbat davening, as well as the t'amim for torah, haftarah, and the chamesh m'gillot (well, 4 of them anyway-I never did learn m'gillot Esther). By osmosis, or necessity (as in the case of the yamim noraim davening when I was away at college) I have also learned all of the yom tov and some of the yamim noraim davening as well. So, I am always interested in comparing nuschaot, and how others chant certain passages.

So, a big y'yasher ko'ch'cha to you for putting the website together. I do find it frustrating that the chant is as slow as it is in your recordings, however, I understand that for some it's probably easier this way. [V.C. comment - your assumption is correct. The objective is to teach, and for most, that requires a slow rendition during the learning phase.]

Again, great work and thanks so much. To the degree that I have been able to find some of this material on CD it is either 1) Overly "high church" (read that more Yoselle Rosenblat than ba'al tfillah, which I love to listen to but can't aspire to) and 2) Very ashkenaz in pronunciation, which I can correct for, but it makes learning harder. [V.C. comment - I recently received a letter from a fellow in Budapest written in Hebrew. He implored me to rerecord the entire site using an Ashkenazic pronounciation rather than the Sephardic one. That will be for the next cycle!]
[V.C. comment - this is an unusual letter from "Down Under". I laughed for quite a bit when I received it.] Josh – you are a freakin’ legend – just what I need to get into my RH and YK davening chazzan preparation whilst at work!!

Keep up the good work – proliferation of G-dliness.

Last night I had the cavod of reciting sheva brachot at my cousin's wedding party in Leeds, UK - and it was mostly in an authentic tune thanks to the virual cantor!

You've been recommended to all my friends.

todah rabbah & keep up the good work,

[V.C. comment - Letters like this one make all the effort worthwhile. There are many of this genre, including one from a fellow who recited the El Male' Rachamim at his Grandmother's funeral. The lifecycle participation is especially fulfilling and heartwarming.]

Hi there, As I am in sh'nat avelut I am davening a lot from the amud and have found your web-site a great help...yashar koach ! [V.C. comment - This letter touched me on a personal level. One of the reasons why I have been working on the Virtual Cantor dates back to the day my Father, alav hashalom, passed away. With only four hours notice on a Sunday morning, over 700 people attended his funeral. He was a Jewish Educator and had touched many lives in the community. It was that outpouring from the community that created a motivation for me to do something in my life that was enduring and returned something back to the community. When I read letters from individuals who are able to "get in the game" rather than observing from the sidelines, I feel a great sense of fulfillment.]
I am impressed with the length and breadth of the work done on this site. Congratulations for fullfilling a need in the Jewish community for Nusach.
The virtual cantor has been such a joy to me as I don't live near any Shule it is a link to my heritage. [V.C. comment - I have been very surprised by the number of individuals who are using the Virtual Cantor as a means of connection. These include individuals who have been relocated by the military, who are inform and shut-in, or who are practicing on their own before they go to Shul so that they can feel more comfortable in the congregation.]
Thank you for Virtual Cantor. I am a rabbinical student and it is a lifesaver to have all this handy at home. [V.C. comment - There have been letters from just about every seminary in the United States that I am aware of: HUC, AJR, UJ, YU, and JTS.]
YASHAR KOACH!!!!!!! What a fantastic site and an amazing help!!! I have been looking for this for years
The way you have divided, organized, numbered and sub cateragorized the files is brilliant. It is so easy to understand exactly what is going on. I'm an organization nut and you have me beat.

A little about us, we are 2003 bal teshuvahs. We have been affiliated with Chabad for over 15. A year ago, we moved from Central Florida (Orlando) to South Florida (Boca Raton) to put our 2 kids in Yeshiva. My wife and I didn't have the opportunity of going to yeshiva and we both struggle with davening (I struggle more than her). We live next to & daven at Boca Raton Synagogue (Modern Orthodox). The kids go to Hebrew Academy Community School in Margate (Chabad).

I have been looking for exactly what you have on your web site. My plans are to buy an MP3 player similar to the one they have at aishaudio.com (Muro MP-100 is a similar one) and broadcast to the car FM radio so that I can learn while I commute. I hope to do this with aishaudio.com's mp3's also.

I thank you for your tremendous effort on this project. I hope to learn / benefit from your hard work and mitzvah's. I am very grateful.

Thank you and Yasha Koach for the Virtual Cantor web site. May you be blessed with many years of good health and prosperity for such a Mitzvah.
What a web site! Absolutely amazing, thanks so much for putting this together.
What a wonderful site! You have created a terrific resource for us.
I just found your wonderful nusach web site. VERY well done. I am looking forward to sharing it with a circle of friends who are interested in increasing the davening skills.
I must admit living in Berlin, Germany I am completly askkenazic but I especially like sefardic melodies. So do you of a similiar site like yours with sefardic melodies? [V.C. comment - I would be happy to host other's recordings...]
Thank you so much for this wonderful site. I so appreciate you and your efforts.
A member of our congregation found Virtual Cantor and pointed it out to us. I am impressed by the completeness and quality of the recordings. As our nusach is a bit different (Levandovski), we find it very valuable to learn from your presentation and diction. Kol haKavod!
Your web site and beautiful audio tracks were brought to my attention. Yasher Koach.
Thank you for this wonderful resource.
A couple questions for you, after saying that I really enjoy the chazanut and appreciate your commitment.

Thank you for this wonderful site. I have attend an Orthdox Shul in the Chicagoland area and have been struruggling with the davening for years. Your site has quickly helped me improve my ability to participate.

Thank you very much for all the useful chazanut you made available for free. You are helping many many people and may you merit to help many more.