Temple Emeth was blessed with the sonorous voice and inimitable Yiddish and cantorial musical style of Cantor Simon Kandler more than 50 years. He started serving the congregation in 1941, as chazzan at High Holy Day services, while also an assistant in the Jewish chaplain’s office at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. He became the full time Cantor in 1946.
Beloved by generations of Temple Emeth congregants, Simon Kandler, born in 1901, came from a musical family in Libau, Latvia. He started singing at the age of six in the choir of the largest synagogue in Libau, the Chor Shul, along with his two older brothers. He went on to study music and voice at the Stern Conservatory and was a member of the choir at the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue.
He arrived in Boston in 1923, on one of the last passenger ships to leave Liverpool for the United States, before the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 took effect. While working for a men’s clothing retailer he pursued his love of music through local theatrical productions and broadcasts on WHDH radio’s “Jewish Hour”.
Cantor Kandler was active in organizations devoted to Jewish liturgical music. In 1994, he received the Hazzan David Putterman Award for Exemplary Service, Northeast Region, from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). In 1998, when JTS awarded him an honorary doctorate, Rabbi Turetz wrote in the convocation program of Cantor Kandler’s “undiminished vigor” and his “majestic tenure, majestically served”. He was a board member and held several offices at the Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of New England. A charter member of the Cantors Assembly of America, established in 1947, he was active in the organization for more than 50 years.
Over the decades, Cantor Kandler prepared thousands of Temple Emeth students for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and officiated at hundreds of weddings and funerals. At the time of his retirement in 2000, he had the distinction of being the oldest working cantor in the world, he became Cantor Emeritus, and an art gallery at Temple Emeth was dedicated in his honor.
In 2001, Cantor Simon Kandler died at the age of 100, plus one month. As noted by Rabbi Turetz, “May his nobility and artistry continue to resonate in our hearts as an everlasting blessing.”