Zvi Aroni

Zvi Aroni
1926 – 1990

Shalom Zvee Aronovitz was born in Jerusalem in 1926. As a child he sang in the choir of the illustrious Cantor Zalman Rivlin, and was one of the boy soprano soloists who sang with the great Chazanim of that era, Kwartin, Rosenblatt and Hershman. He had an outstanding voice and he became known as the “Wonder Boy Cantor from Jerusalem”. He studied chazzanut with Cantor Samuel Kavetsky.In Israel Zvee barely escaped being hanged by the British, as he was in the Israeli Underground (IRGUN), and in 1947 his uncle in Baltimore signed an affidavit to bring him to America. He studied for the Rabbinate in Baltimore, and voice with Maestro Astolfo Pescia.

In 1949 he moved to N.E. Philadelphia where he served as Cantor in Temple Shalom, and in 1954 he moved to Forest Hills, New York where he served as cantor at the Forest Hills Jewish Center until 1963. He then returned to Israel for a year of inspiration, where he served at Temple Yeshurun in Tel Aviv.

In 1964 he became Cantor of the Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue in Toronto, Canada. It was here that he was able to create the Tefilah Boys Choir who sang at most Shabbat morning services. He was very keen to revive the practice of a synagogue choir with boy sopranos and altos participating in the service on the Bimah together with the Chazan, where they would become an integral part of the service. This, he believed, would be good for them in that they would be able to learn all aspects of the rituals of the Synagogue. In later years baritones and tenors from the congregation were added to enhance the repertoire and expand the colour of the choir.

This choir received many invitations to perform, including a memorable performance at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall where they were given a standing ovation.

From 1968-1979 Cantor Aroni served at Shaare Tzedek in Manhattan. In 1979 he and his wife, Hedvah, moved to North Miami Beach where he served at Beth Torah until his death in 1990.

His recordings can be heard free of charge on the Judaica Sound Archives www.fau.edu/jsa.

(My thanks to Benjamin Roth-Aroni, stepson of CantorĀ Aroni, for the information in this article)
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