The Cantor’s Couch, is a journey through Cantor Jack Mendelson‘s real life stories growing up in 1950’s Borough Park, Brooklyn. The son of a loving deli owner and an overbearing mother, he paints a picture of a bygone day in Jewish America when Jews would flock to synagogue to hear the golden voices of cantors as if it were a concert hall. It is a relatable story of a childhood riddled with anxiety and doubt, mixed with joyous memories of music and celebration — all told with the expertise and comic timing of a master storyteller. Cantor Mendelson’s collaborator and accompanist is Cantor Jonathan Comisar, who wrote original music for this production. The Cantor’s Couch delivers a wonderful performance of original and traditional musical numbers, making for a riveting 90 minute musical theater experience.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cantor Mendelson witnessed the dwindling days of the Golden Age of Hazzanut. Now, as both an international performer and one of the leading cantorial masters of today, he is passing on his art to a new generation of cantors. For over 25 years he has taught at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music, and the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Cantor Mendelson has the unique honor of receiving honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.
Cantor Mendelson is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music and the American Opera Center at the Juilliard School. He is the composer of Weekday Mincha and Maariv and Improvisations on Shabbat Shacharit published by the Cantors Assembly, the organization in which he served as president in 2003 and 2004.
Mendelson created the role of Shabtai Tz’vi in the world premiere of Richard Teitelbaum’s Scenes From Tz’vi held at both Bard College and La Biennale in Venice. After a Carnegie Hall concert, the New York Times raved: “Mendelson’s performance was stunning….emotionally unguarded.” In January 2006, he sang the memorial prayer at the United Nations General Assembly, on the occasion of the first international day to Commemorate Victims of the Holocaust.
Cantor Mendelson’s discography includes Cantorial Recitatives by Legendary Masters, The Birthday of the World Part I and Part II, A Taste of Eternity, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, Jewish Music and More, recorded with his wife, Cantor Fredda Mendelson, Hazonos, called “…jazz album of the year” by Wired Magazine, recorded with Frank London and his son, Daniel Mendelson, as well as, Further definitions of the Days of Awe, with the Afro Semitic Experience, also featuring his son Daniel. Sept. 10 marks the release of his new double cd on the high holidays called Yontef! Available on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, etc.
Cantor Mendelson is also the subject of the documentary films A Cantor’s Tale and Deli Man directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou, which have played in film festivals throughout the world. Cantor Mendelson is also featured in the documentary films 100 Voices, and Journey of Spirit, the film on the life of Debbie Friedman.