Chazzan Elliott Joseph Yavneh comes from a distinguished and prolific line of professional chazzanim. His father, Chazzan Ephraim Yavneh, Zt’l served his Queens congregation, Congregation Tifereth Israel, for sixty years, the longest tenure of any chazzan in one congregation in the history of the American Cantorate. His uncle Zalmon Zt’l, who was known as the ‘neshomah’ chazzan, served as Chazzan for The West Side Institutional Synagogue in Manhattan for 55 years. Added to this are three cousins, Murray and Emanuel Yavneh and Sholom Nelson who, along with Cantor Yavneh continued as cantors in their respective shuls.
The Chazzan’s mother, Gloria, A’H, also served the Jewish community with love and distinction as the President of the Women’s Division of Jewish Ministers and Cantors Association of America and Canada for over a decade.
At the age of three, Chazzan Yavneh loved to stand at his father’s side (and/or under his talis) on the bimah of Tifereth Israel, joining in t’filot and shira. By four, he made his professional debut on a concert stage and first officiated as a professional chazzan at the age of 17. Cantor Yavneh received a post-graduate degree in Chazzanut from the Herzliah Teachers Seminary where he studied with the world renown Chazzan David Koussevitzky Zt’l and went on to study under Chazzan Zvi Aroni Zt’l. Chazzan Yavneh began many years of professional voice instruction in the Bel Canto tradition and through his years of training mastered correct traditional nusach hatefilah.
Chazzan Yavneh’s deep love of chazzanus brought him to different congregations throughout his career, serving as Chazzan on the yommim noroyim. He ultimately joined Congregation Ohr Zarua in Bellmore New York as a full time Chazzan in August of 1993 and was one of the first Chazzanim to introduce Carlebach-style davening, beautiful “user friendly” Niggunim, and
today’s popular Israeli/Chassidic music to lead the Congregation in prayer. One of his greatest accomplishments in his work is the close personal relationships that he built with many congregants and especially with the children of his shul. He has trained over 500 b’nai and b’not mitzvah during his tenure.
On a secular level the Cantor has many other accomplishments. After graduating from Baruch College in 1973 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he went on to become a successful businessman and well known entity in the recruiting world.
Chazzan Yavneh resides in Long Island with his childhood sweetheart and wife of over forty years, Andrea. They have a son, Joshua, engaged to Miriam Gadlin, and a daughter, Samara, who is married to Eric Feiler. The Cantor and his wife are blessed with three grandchildren; Jacob, Arielle and Peri Leiba Feiler.
(Thanks to Samara Feiler for this biography)