We asked Chazan Aryeh Hurwitz, the official cantor of Chabad of Central Boca, seven questions about his recent experience singing the National Anthem at the start of a recent NBA game for the Miami Heat.
1) Where and how did you grow up Jewishly ?
I grew up in a very wonderful Orthodox community of Crown Heights. I always liked to sing but never did I ever dare sing in public or publicly until I was about 20 years old.
2) When, how, and why did you get into singing?
I spent the year in South Africa and we were surrounded by singers and musicians and that’s when it all began. South Africa is a country with a culture of choirs in both the Jewish and non Jewish communities. The shuls to this day have choirs and a cantor, and we began checking out different cantors and synagogues each week to hear their music and prayers.
Eventually I decided to train my voice and I found a voice teacher from the opera school. It was an eye opening experience. At the end of the year I sang in my first concert and first public “performance.” When I got back to New York, I enrolled at Yeshiva University‘s music school, where I got a scholarship and I’ve been studying music and voice since with private teachers. I just moved to Boca Raton where I am the official cantor at Chabad of Central Boca.
3) Where do you sing?
I had the absolute privilege to sing in several cool countries and venues. I sang in four concerts in Johannesburg, South Africa. I sang at the Berlin Philharmonic hall in Germany. I did the National Anthem on three other occasions: Once at the Barclays Center and twice in Salt Lake City for the Utah Jazz. I also sang at the White House Menorah Lighting this Chanukah. Right before COVID, I sang at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue and at two symphonic concerts in Israel.
4) How did you get this National anthem gig?
I just moved to Florida. The Miami Heat were hosting a Jewish Heritage Night on Chanukah. The arrangers invited me to sing the Anthem.
5) What was it like?
It was incredible! I’m a sports fan, so being a part of the performance of such a sporting event is so awesome. The lights go off, the mic turns on, and a certain adrenaline just comes rushing in. It’s exhilarating.
6) How was it received?
The ovation says it. But I think that people are used to a classic pop version of it. When they hear a cantorial version, especially a frum Jewish guy singing it, they pay more attention. I got a lot of responses from so many fans in the arena, including the Mayor of Miami-Dade county.
7) With rising Antisemitsm, why is being a proud and public Jew more important than ever?
The only way to combat antisemitism is with Jewish Pride. We have to be proud and show the world how amazing we are. Not God forbid to hide from it. Not victimize ourselves. This is not a slogan. It’s actually a scientific fact… to fight back against a bully you need to show a sign of strength and confidence.