This presentation outlines the origins and historical and musical background of the Chanukah candle lighting blessings and of the Hebrew hymn Ma Oz Tzur. Several variations of this hymn throughout the ages will be explored with audio recordings and visual images.
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Cantor Benjamin Maissner is Cantor Emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Conductor and Music Director of Lachan Jewish Chamber Choir, and a part-time faculty member at Abraham Geiger College. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Cantorial Music from Hebrew Union College, a Master’s degree in Music History, Voice and Performance from Temple University, and honorary Doctorates from Hebrew Union College and Jewish Theological Seminary, the Cantor is a highly sought-after lecturer, teacher, coach, and mentor, with an encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish secular and liturgical music. He was the National Chair of the Certification Program of the American Conference of Cantors; Cantor-in-Residence at Hebrew Union College in New York, Cincinnati and Jerusalem; and is a regular lecturer and coach at Abraham Geiger College, in Berlin. Cantor Maissner served on the Executive Board of the Conservative Cantors’ Assembly and as Vice President of the American Conference of Cantors (Reform). In recognition of his significant contribution to the reconciliation between Christians and Jews and Germans and Jews, and for restoring and preserving the great Jewish musical heritage of Germany, Cantor Maissner was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany’s highest civilian honour.