High Holiday Wonderkind
by Shevi Katzman

He may have been the youngest Chazan to lead Rosh Hashana davening in the Midwest. Last week at Chabad House, fourteen year old Cantor Menachem Rapaport from Toronto, Canada led the congregation in prayer and song during the Days of Awe.
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The Chazan and his team at Chabad House, left to right, Menachem Rapaport, Chaim Shushan, Yossi Katzman, Rabbi Mendel Katzman, Asher Sossonko and Efraim Sputz.

 “As I entered the shul,” recounts Elaine Urban on her experience with the young cantor, “the Chazan's voice filled the air with the most beautiful, melodious tone as he effortlessly and powerfully progressed through the Machzor.”

Rapaport came to Omaha from a Yeshiva with some fellow students to back him up during the prayers. He has been singing since he was five years old and enjoys it. Rapaport’s maternal great grandfathers were cantors. His grandfather and older brother are his role models, being cantors themselves.  

David Cohen, a participant in the services, notes, “I thought the young chazan was excellent, combining mastery of the melodies for Rosh Hashanah with devotion to and respect for the meaning of the prayers he chanted.”

Chavie Rapaport, the cantor’s mother, claims her son is “full of life. He’s a go getter and takes initiative. He likes to joke around and his 10 year old brother says Menachem is the best brother around.” 

The congregation at Chabad House, where everyone is welcome, was honored to daven with the youngest cantor they’ve heard.  

Urban adds, “As [the cantor] proceeded to carry the Torah, I was amazed to see that he was a child appearing barely to be of Bar Mitzvah age. Though quite young, he had the heart and ability to lead us into a most profound spiritual experience through the two days of Rosh Hashanah.”  

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