Cantor Henry Butensky, the beloved cantor of temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, NJ, grew up in the Bronx. His family, steeped in sacred music and tradition, produced noted cantorial careers stretching over five generations. His singing talents were discovered early and by the time he was 6 years old he was already singing in synagogue choirs, and absorbing all he could from the genius of the Chazzanim who surrounded him.
Cantor Butensky studied voice with Bernard Kwartin at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. He was awarded his Cantorial Certification from the Cantorial Academy in 1960. Because of the beauty and strength of his voice he was encouraged to pursue a career in opera. Although his love of cantorial music prevailed, his operatic arias have added dimension and diversity to his repertoire.
Butensky entered the US Army in 1942, serving with George Patton’s third Army and participating in the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The story of his experiences during this time can be found in Holocaust Testimonies: European Survivors and American Liberators (edited by Joseph Preil, Rutgers University Press, 2001).
He began his service to Temple Beth Shalom in 1958 and during the next 40 years he confirmed over 600 students; performed more than 800 marriages; led over 1000 people on trips to Israel; worked with over 1800 bar and bat mitzvah children; and became a beloved community leader.
Cantor Butensky and his wife Sally raised a daughter and two sons who have blessed them with six grandchildren.
Music in this collection courtesy of Cantor Henry Butensky.