If Doogie Howser could sing…
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If Doogie Howser could sing…

Fair Lawn’s Temple Beth Sholom welcomes new cantor

David Krasner
David Krasner

H

e started young.

So young, in fact that when he was 16, he said, a newspaper article called him the Doogie Howser of the cantorate. In 2006, Cantor David Krasner, who now is 29, already was the cantor of the Suburban Park Jewish Center in East Meadow, on Long Island. His father, Rabbi Sam Krasner, was the rabbi of the modern Orthodox shul.

“The Jewish Star, the South Shore newspaper in Long Island, picked up the story in 2007,” Cantor Krasner said; when he was 15, he started leading parts of the service on the High Holidays and Shabbat.

Now he’s working at Temple Beth Sholom in Fair Lawn; before that, his most recent cantorial stint was at the Bellerose Jewish Center in Glen Oaks, in Queens.

The young chazzan was ordained by the JMCA, the Jewish Ministers Cantor Association of America. The association, founded in 1897, was created to represent traditional cantors in the United States and Canada. According to its website, it originally was composed of cantors who “survived the pogroms of Eastern Europe of the 1890s, the refugees of World War I, and the remnants of Jewry that came to our shores of America after the decimation of the World War II Holocaust and the destruction of hundreds of synagogues…. Their very lives and families depended on the camaraderie and support of this organization.”

Deciding not to attend what he called a “quintessential” cantorial school, Cantor Krasner pursued secular studies in college, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition at CUNY Queens College. But, he stressed, he never stopped being a cantor. “I didn’t need cantorial training,” he said. “I learned on the job. My father was a rabbi, and the previous cantor of Suburban Park took me under his wing.” He left that shul for Bellerose, he said, because he said, he wanted to explore a different opportunity. Both shuls are composed mainly of older members and probably will look to merge with other synagogues, he added.

Cantor Krasner said he performs his cantorial duties part-time, spending Shabbat at the synagogue in Fair Lawn but working in the healthcare industry in Brooklyn during the rest of the week, doing marketing and business development in the area of home care. He feels well-suited to the Fair Lawn shul, which is Conservative, but still is “more traditional and non-egalitarian,” he said. In addition to leading services and assisting with life-cycle events, he will begin reading Torah next year.

Cantor Krasner, who lives in Fort Lee with his wife, Sheri, and their daughters, Samuella, 2, and Ariella, 9 months, called Fair Lawn a “nice, serene community,” which he looks forward to knowing better. When he is better established, he said, the family will consider moving into the town. An avid movie watcher and sports enthusiast, Cantor Krasner said that right now he is spending a good deal of time working from home and helping to take care of the children.

Describing himself as “an easy-going family person,” Beth Sholom’s new cantor said, “I have a lot of patience, and I enjoy congregational singing.” One of his favorite things is to “get the congregation to sing together, move them from listless to vibrant, getting them involved in services and imbuing them with life.” He said that he is comfortable reading “Torah, megillot, haftarot” and has been doing it “every year, every week, since I became a bar mitzvah.” He’s a lyric tenor, he said; “I hit the higher range of notes.”

His goal is to attract young people to the synagogue, although, he noted, Conservative synagogues in general are less successful than their Orthodox and Reform counterparts in wooing this population. Right now, he is trying to get ready for the High Holidays, learning the melodies used by the Fair Lawn congregation while preparing to introduce new ones as well. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

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