FAU Libraries accepts generous gift in memory of Barry Serota

By , July 21, 2011 3:01 pm

When Barry Serota’s life suddenly ended because of a heart attack in November 2009, the world of recorded Jewish music lost one of its most respected professionals.

Barry Serota, a practicing attorney and executive director of the Institute for Jewish Sound Recording, died suddenly November 16, 2009 on a plane flight between New York and Madrid on the way to Israel.

Serota, widely known for his deep knowledge of Jewish music, had produced more than 100 recordings of Jewish sacred and secular music. Serota’s output at the Institute, based in Chicago, included choral, instrumental, folk and art music. Serota was especially known a promoter of chazzanut. Starting in 1969, he issued many esoteric Jewish music recordings under the imprint of Musique Internationale.

Serota, an advisor to the Milken Foundation, worked on their large project of the Library of American Jewish Music, the recordings which were published under the Naxos label. He was also involved in the Foundation’s oral-history project, for which he interviewed many of the leading figures in Jewish music.

Serota earned degrees at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and received a law degree from De Paul University of Chicago. He lectured widely, including numerous professional and academic organizations such as the Cantorial Council of America, HUC (Hebrew Union College), TACI (Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute), and the Museum of the Diaspora.

At the time of his death, Jeffrey P. Lieuwen wrote, “I hope the enormous collection he leaves behind will fall into good hands, so it will be preserved for generations to come.” I hope Mr. Lieuwen and others will be pleased to learn that Barry Serota’s mother, Mrs. Blanche Serota, has donated his entire personal collection to the Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries.

One Response to “FAU Libraries accepts generous gift in memory of Barry Serota”

  1. Victor Hurowitz says:

    I met Barry in the summer of 1965 when we were fellow campers at Camp Ramah’s American seminar in Nyack, New York. He arrived at camp with his record collection and spent most of his time listening to them. He also was one of the gabba’im and always tried to have ba’aley tefillah who were competent. Several years later when I was visiting JTS for Shabbat I crashed in his dorm room which was overflowing with records. Motza’ey shabbat he went to Brooklyn on some sort of cantorial business, I think something with one of the Zim brothers. I didn’t see him again since then. But now, every Friday, as I sit in my office in Beer Sheva at the Ben-Gurion University, I listen to the FAU site and I”m so happy to listen to the Musique Internationale label on which Barry made his recordings. I thank his mother Blanche for contributing his collection to the FAU archives, and I thank Barry for giving me the gift of loving Chazzanut. Shabbat shalom and ketivah wehatimah tovah!

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