Cantor’s Column – May 2019

Cantor’s Kid

Cantor Ilan Davidson

When I was growing up, I was always known as Cantor’s boy. My identity was always shrouded in who the community wanted me to be. I was proud of the role I was trained to perform, but at the same time, I couldn’t wait to escape it. Nobody ever asked me how it made me feel. Nobody ever asked me who I was. It was just assumed that this was me. It’s no wonder that when I was a teenager, I didn’t want to end up in this profession.

The month of May brings Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of Torah, and with it, Confirmation. When God gave us Torah, we were asked to accept it. It wasn’t just thrust upon us. In fact, God wanted certain guarantees, the Midrash teaches. Likewise, as our confirmands ascend to the Torah, they will be asked, for the first time in their lives, to confirm why they are Jews; no longer because of their birth right, but why they choose Judaism.

A couple of summers ago, while at camp, Jordan was asked to write a monologue about being the cantor’s daughter. Here’s what my then 14 year old had to say:

“You know what pisses me off? When everyone thinks that I am this perfect person, because of who my father is. I am a cantor’s daughter. They think I should know everything there is about Judaism. Not only in the religious sense, but in the everything sense. I am not my father! I did not train to be a cantor. I didn’t even train to be a daughter of a cantor… it just happened.

Oh, and also, my dad is the president of my school’s drama boosters, so people always think that I get roles because of how well my dad knows the director.

Well, you know what? I am me. I am 14. I work really hard to be a great student and a good performer. I make my own choices, in my own life. My dad is awesome. I wouldn’t want to change who he is. I just want the outside world to see me for me.”

This month, Jordan, that sweet baby whom you have all watched grow up, will ascend with her colleagues, as a 16-year-old, young Jewish woman, to confirm her place in the Jewish community. I am so proud of her and her classmates and all that they have accomplished, as they have all grown up here at Temple Beth El. We should all join in celebrating our youth, each year, as they grow and confirm their place in our community, and the greater Jewish world, at Confirmation.