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WASSERZUG, HAIM:

English ḥazzan and composer; born at Sheritz, Prussian Poland, 1822; died at Brighton, England, Aug. 24, 1882. As a child he was endowed with a remarkably sweet voice, and at eighteen he was elected ḥazzan at Konin. His renown soon spread among the Jewish communities of Poland, and he received a call as ḥazzan to Novy-Dvor, where his introduction of choral singing and singing in harmony, instead of the then prevalent "ḥazzanut," aroused considerable opposition against him on the part of the Ḥasidim. Thirteen years later he was appointed to a post at Lonisa, near the Lithuanian frontier. Here he remained for five years, when he was elected cantor of the Wilna congregation. In 1867, on the opening of the North London Synagogue, he was elected its first reader, which office he held until his death in 1882.

During his ḥazzanship at Wilna, Wasserzug wrote some sacred compositions which, under the title "Sefer Shire Miḳdash," were published in London, 1878. These compositions received high commendation; and some of the principal cantors of the European continent and of America were numbered among his disciples. His son, David Wasserzug, was educated at Jews' College, London, and has officiated as rabbi at Cardiff in Wales, at Johannesburg in South Africa, and, since 1905, at the Dalston Synagogue, London.

Bibliography:
  • Jew. Chron. and Jew. World, Sept. 1, 1882.
J. G. L.
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