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Jews, God, and VideotapeReligion and Media in America$
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Jeffrey Shandler

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740675

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740675.001.0001

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Cantors on Trial

Cantors on Trial

(p.13) 1 Cantors on Trial
Jews, God, and Videotape

Jeffrey Shandler

NYU Press

The chapter examines the impact of sound recordings, broadcasting, film, and other media on the role of cantors in Jewish community life throughout the twentieth century. As these new media aestheticized cantors’ devotional musicianship, they have transformed the cantor from a spiritual messenger into a celebrity performer, who has become the center of communal attention as opposed to a conduit to the divine. These media have also situated cantors as protagonists in a variety of narratives in which cantors figure as exemplars of American Jewry, negotiating the demands of communitarian tradition and the lure of modern culture, centered on individual consciousness and creativity.

Keywords:   media, cantors, Jewish community life, devotional musicianship, celebrity performer, American Jewry

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