Rosh Hashannah

Sitting in shul, listening to the awesome chazzan singing his haunting melodies, I was transported back years. Growing up we attended Machzikei Hadas shul in Golders Green, London. Every year Mr David Bakst, may his memory be blessed, was the appointed chazzan for Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur davening. He wasn’t a youngster then, but he was always able to still be standing and davenning for the Amud by Neilah on Yom Kippur.

The tunes that he sang are the default yomtov tunes in my head. They are different tunes from those sang here in most North American shuls that I have attended. He davened with such emotion and longing.

When he did the Tefillah Zacah, the prayer before the Mussaf amidah, where the prayer is  about how awesome a responsibility it is that he has been appointed to represent the congregation – his voiced cracked, and the hairs on our arms stood on end. He made us feel the solemnity of the occasion. Even if one had no knowledge of Hebrew or prayer, one would have felt the right emotions through the power of his voice. One really felt he was communing directly with God. Even as a young child his davenning made a huge impact on my soul. He is someone I will never forget.

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  1. Mike Miller says:

    To be precise, the tefilla before musaf is just that, “the chazan’s tefilla before musaf.”

    Tefillas zakkah is said (among most Ashkenazim, at least) before kol nidrei. It’s both a request for forgiveness from Hashem, as well as a way to declare that one forgives anyone who wrong him. It was clearly composed for men, some women say it, but should make sure to omit the parts which aren’t relevant.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      Mike – i stand corrected! for some reason in my mind that tefillah was called Zakkah. I should drink coffee before i write early in the morning!

  2. Ruthie says:

    Thanks, Hadassah, for this poignant piece. Although I never heard him daven, David Bakst was my next door neighbour for a few years. He was a real gentleman, who always had a ready smile or kind word to say. Thanks for sharing.

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