chazan braun boys

From the age of six Yisrael and Yehuda began their musical education. They started to sing and perform with their father Chazan Yehezkel Braun who is their mentor and teacher for chazanut and voice training. They too have inherited a love and passion of singing and give powerful and inspiring performances.

Family History

chazan shabtay braun

My father, Reb Shabtay Braun Halevi was born in Shalgotarian, Hungary in 1923.

Reb Akiva Braun, my father's father was also a chazan and he possessed beautiful lyrics and a strong tenor voice. My father, from a young age, sang in the choir of M. Friedman, the chazan of Shalgotarian, and from the age of 13 occasionally conducted the services.

My father survived the holocaust, but lost members of his immediate family including his mother, sisters and a brother. I often encouraged my father to talk about his experiences but he was unable to do so except for one or two incidents when he came close to death.

Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel my parents made aliya. Often my father was given the opportunity to be the chazan at major events of the new state. He was invited to sing at many official functions including the lighting of chanukah candles at the president's house and at official consecrations dedicated to congregations who perished in the Holocaust. He sang at many concerts and even took part in a few ceremonies that took place after the liberation of the Kotel.

I still remember myself as a young boy singing with my father and brothers at the Kotel while lighting the Chanukah candles. There was excitement in the air at that time and a huge crowd gathered to celebrate Chanukah, the first in many years.

chazan shabtay braun

As we were a large family of ten children, my father had a unique situation whereby he sang with his seven sons. For many years we used to travel with him to give concerts or he would officiate in a number of shules for their first Slichot services, Yomim Tovim or to be guest chazan for Shabbos. We also accompanied him when he sang chazanut on the radio programme 'Kol Yisrael La'gola' on Israeli radio. His permanent position, however, was as the chazan of the Central Synagogue in North Tel-Aviv.

When my father davened he was like a 'burning fire', he sang not only with his voice but also with his whole being, especially on the High Holidays or at the Slichot service. I trembled at the fire of his singing and many times I feared for his health because he used so much energy. During his davening the air in the synagogue was electric.

His style of davening was the original Eastern European way of singing with a lot of expression. He was able to put the words of tefila to a suitable tune. I benefited a lot from his exceptional nusach of Tefillah. Having his tenor voice enabled my father to sing a wide range of notes so he could sing a variety of Chazanut pieces with ease.

I grew up in a house where singing and learning Torah were our way of life. Our Shabbos table was like a "Rebbe's Tish" - we sat for hours singing and harmonising together and discussing Torah topics. At that time our neighbours in Bayit - Vagan, Jerusalem would stand outside and enjoy a free concert.

On his Yahrzeit I have the opportunity to recall the memories of my upbringing where chazanut was a natural part of our family life. As I grow older I appreciate more and more the musical treasure my father gave me, which is so much more than the formal music studies that I undertook.