Monday, 29 October 2012

Then You Can Be a Chazan - A Tribute to Stephen Cotsen

If you can command a pulpit when rabbis around all about you

Come and go and the shul depends on you;

If you can lead so all can follow you

But make allowance for their leadership too;

If you can sing all day and neither be tired by singing

Nor make us tired to hear your song;


If your weekday, Shalosh Regalim, Shabbat, Yomim Noraim

Nusach is always impeccable;

If your Yitgadal and your Yitgadash are always evocative

Of correct time and place;

If you start and even more magically

If you finish at precisely on the dot.

If your Tefillat Geshem makes the heavens weep

And your mere presence guarantees sunlight on the walk to shul


If you can fill the unforgiving Day of Kippur

With Avodah of beauty and passion;

If you can bury and wed - or both in the same day

If you sit with spotty adolescent or home bound congregant

And love us all, and we know that, so we love you in return


If you can be the fulcrum of our thoughts and prayers

And still retain that humility – for it’s not to you we pray;

If you can sing with unstinting passion and commitment

And still know that being our Baal Tefillah isn’t

About your vocal pyrotechnics

We’ll love you even more.


If you can cater – and boy can you cater

Or even as you give up the catering

If you inspire others to try

If you raise the money or produce the leaflet, or the concert or Boojah or ...

Oh so many many things


If you can sit through meeting after meeting

With a gnomic smile;

If you can sit through sermon after sermon

And not make it too obvious

That, of course, you know far better;

If you can put up with this Rabbi

Who speaks too much and starts too many things

That fall through the net for you to catch;

If you can make the office groan

At yet another quickly turned pun


And if, despite all the love we have for you

You know there is no higher call than the care of your sister and mum

Then there will always be a special place in our heart, in my heart, for you

We are all in you debt

Our Chazan, our songstrel

My friend and colleague good and true,

Then, indeed, yours is the Earth and everything in it,

And what is more – you’ve been a mighty Chazan, my son!


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