PAS Musical Heritage

Park Avenue Synagogue has a long and illustrious history in the world of Jewish liturgical music. PAS has benefitted from the leadership and musicianship of extraordinary cantors, choir masters and organists. The synagogue has not only preserved the musical legacy of the past, but has also been a leader in the creation of contemporary liturgical music.

Cantor Azi Schwartz, 2009-present

Read about Cantor Schwartz.

Cantor David Lefkowitz, 1976-2009

Cantor David Lefkowitz joined Park Avenue Synagogue in 1976 and further enhanced the level of music at PAS. His interest in preserving the musical treasures of the great synagogues and composers of Europe led him to discover, research, and give new life to works that had been abandoned for generations. He has catalogued the unpublished manuscripts of composer David Nowakowsky and other notable composers. Cantor Lefkowitz also initiated the Annual Shabbat Morning Services of Classical Liturgical Music at PAS, modeled after the choral services of the great synagogues in Eastern Europe. In 1992, under Cantor Lefkowitz’s leadership, Park Avenue Synagogue celebrated its 50th Anniversary Concert of New Liturgical Music. In 2001, at a Gala Dinner Dance, the synagogue community honored him for 25 years of outstanding service and contributions to the congregation. He is admired for his musical talent, his passion in creating music for PAS, and for balancing the American sounds of contemporary commissioned pieces with an appreciation for unknown or forgotten music by cantors and composers from previous centuries. When Cantor Lefkowitz retired in June 2009, the congregation honored him with a gala concert featuring numerous of his cantorial colleagues, many of whom had once served as his Assistant Cantor or had sung in the Park Avenue Synagogue Choir. The congregation also issued a celebratory CD, Cantor David Lefkowitz: Legacy.

Cantor David Putterman, 1933-1976

Cantor Abraham Sukoenig, 1914-1932

Other Musical Leaders

Colin Fowler, Organist, 2012-present

Read about Colin Fowler.

McNeil Robinson, Organist, 1964-2012
Cantor Nancy Abramson, 1997-2011

Abraham Kaplan, Choral Director, 1968-1999 
George Crook, Organist, 1952-1965
Isador Geller, Organist and Choirmaster, 1916-1952

Adapted in part from “Park Avenue’s Musical History: The Spirit of Our Souls” by Marcia J. Stone in
Unbroken Chain: Celebrating 125 Years (Park Avenue Synagogue, 2008). Much of that article was drawn from the prolific writings of Cantor David Lefkowitz.