Salomon Kupfer

1881 – 1965

Cantor Salomon Kupfer was born in Bialowieza, near Radom in Poland. His father and brother were famous cantors.

Chazan Kupfer studied in the cantorial school in Czestochowa which was founded by Cantor Abraham Baer Birnbaum in 1907. In this school every aspect of the Chazan’s art was taught.

In 1927 Cantor Salomon Stern left the Ohel Ya’akov Synagogue in Leipzig to take up a position in Manchester in the United Kingdom and Cantor Kupfer replaced him. In addition to his cantorial duties in Leipzig, Cantor Kupfer taught Hebrew language and literature in a local school. He often appeared on radio and gave many concerts.

Cantor Kupfer was invited to officiate at the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv in 1928

With the rise of Nazism, Chazan Kupfer left Leipzig and followed Salomon Stern to Manchester, as the eminent choir master Fabian Gonski had already done.

In 1934 he was appointed Chazan at Manchester’s New Synagogue on Cheetham Hill Road (the building still stands). This was a much coveted position where a number of great Cantors had previously held the position, such as Jacob Matz (d. 1913), Isaac Shapiro (d. 1931), Leibish Liller (d. 1947), Solomon Pinkasovitch (d. 1951) and Aron Elfand (d.1965).

Cantor Kupfer held this prestigious post for over thirty years. His lifelong friend, Chazan S.H. Morris of the South Manchester Synagogue, who trained in the same cantorial school in Poland said of him, “He was a musician with a cultured tenor voice.” (Incidentally, Chazan Morris died nine years after Cantor Kupfer – on the same day, 10th October.)

At a memorial service held for Cantor Kupfer, Dayan Golditch, the former Av Beis Din of Manchester, said of him: “Chazan Kupfer exemplified and showed in his life the great qualities of a Chazan. He was a man who honoured God and gave dignity to the profession. Even those who were not gifted musically could not fail to appreciate Rev Kupfer’s brilliant phrasing. He possessed great sweetness of voice and a a complete mastery over it.”

Also participating in this memorial service were Rabbi J.H. Gordon, Rev G Brodie and Chazanim M. Pearlman, M. Warchawsky, S.H. Morris, and S. Hershman. The Manchester Jewish Male Voice Choir was conducted by Fabian Gonski.

Cantor Kupfer had two daughters, Lola and Ann who were talented pianists.

He passed away in 1965 and is buried in the Urmston Cemetary in Manchester.

Many thanks to Chazan Yehudah Marx for this biography.

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