Cantor Todros Greenberg is widely known and respected for his musical compositions. A 40-year collaboration with Cantor Sholom Kalib resulted in the publication of the critically acclaimed book, "Heichal Han'ghina V'hatfilah, Volume 1" (Cantors Assembly: Chicago, IL,1961).
The introductory pages of the book tell us that:
“His father, [was] punctilious in his observance of all mitzvoth and well versed in Jewish learning. With his wife Hinde, who came of the prominent Chassidic Rizhin stock, he maintained a respectable orthodox home.”
“The family moved to Odessa during Todick’s (Theodore’s) childhood, and there he began his career of a singer. Singing came to him naturally. Song simply gushed from him.”
Greenberg began his Cantorial training under the guidance of his mother’s brother, Hayim Shmuel Bogomolny. Feeling honored to have their son chosen by such a prominent Cantor, his parents readily agreed for their son to leave home to tour the cities and towns of Austria-Hungary in his uncle’s choir.
“This music…. is a living example [of] the rich heritage of Eastern European Jewry at the turn of the last century, and of the evolving musical style which the Jewish community in America witnessed during the first half of this century.”
- Richard Neumann
When he was 16 years old he returned to Odessa. His childhood voice was changing as he grew older. He was no longer able to sing with the choir. Yet, he presented himself to the choir-master at the Broder Synagogue and offered his services without pay. And there he sang until his voice fully matured into a beautiful counter-tenor (the male equivalent of contralto).
When he rejoined his uncle’s tour, he met and, at the age of 19, married Raysel.They were blessed with two daughters, Bessie and Malcah.
The couple moved to Russian Poland to work with Cantor Abraham Birnbaum. During this time he was a prolific composer of sentimental songs and melodies expressing the woes of Jewish life. His music often incorporated the gentle lyrical quality of Ukrainian Chassidic folk songs.
In 1913, as war threatened to engulf Europe, Greenberg made a decision to move his family to Kansas City, Missouri, where Raysel’s brother was already established. He sang at the K’nessth Israel Synagogue in Kansas City until 1919 and then became the permanent cantor at the Anshe Sholom Synagogue in Chicago.
Cantor Greenberg was well-respected for his musical talents, his service to the Cantor’s Assembly and his commitment to teaching others. The Judaica Sound Archives is proud of its role in preserving the recorded music legacy of Cantor Todros Greenberg.
The digitized music in this collection was lovingly and painstakingly created by Benjamin Roth-Aroni (JSA sound technician) with the assistance of Cantor Joseph Gross, from Cantor Greenberg’s personal reel-to-reel tapes which were donated to the Judaica Sound Archives by Cantor Greenberg’s family in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of his great-great-grandson, Noah Johnson.