Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
News

Milton Steinberg, 96, Lover Of Cantorial Music

(JTA) — On the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, the voice of Milton Steinberg rose to the heavens.

For more than a decade Steinberg, a Holocaust survivor with a resonant voice and a lifelong passion for cantorial music, joined Cantor Shimon Craimer of the Riverdale Jewish Center during the recitation of the Avodah prayer, a centerpiece of the Yom Kippur liturgy. With his shock of silver-gray hair, Steinberg was considered an elder statesman of the Orthodox synagogue he helped found and his stature contrasted with the much younger cantor.

“I will never forget the first time,” Craimer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Israel, where he now lives. “It was like I was the protege and he was the master. … You could feel his entire life coming out. It was magical.”

Steinberg, who died on Jan. 14 from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 96, was devoted to traditional Eastern European prayers and liturgical music from his childhood growing up in a religious family in Nagyaroszi, a village in northern Hungary.

The Nazis occupied the country in 1944 and Steinberg, then about 20, was forced into slave labor camps. He later survived a death march to Austria, where he was liberated on May 4, 1945. His mother and three younger siblings perished at Auschwitz. His father had immigrated a few years earlier to New York City, where the two reunited after the war.

Steinberg met his wife, Lillie (nee Friedberg), at night school English classes. Born in Slovakia, she also was a Holocaust survivor who in 1942 had been on the second transport of women and children to Auschwitz. After toiling in a Manhattan factory, Steinberg and a co-worker launched their own sportswear business, buoyed by Lillie’s keen sense of style.

The family eventually settled in New York City, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, where they raised their two daughters. In addition to his leadership at the Riverdale Jewish Center, Steinberg also was a longtime supporter of SAR Academy and other Jewish causes. Over the years, Steinberg often stepped up to lead daily prayers at the synagogue, which was an integral part of the family’s life.

“People would have tears in their eyes,” Arlene Steinberg said of her father’s voice. “Cantorial music meant everything to him.”

Following his wife’s death in 2018 — they were married for 69 years — Steinberg reflected on the gratitude he felt for their survival and shared lives.

“I had nothing, she had nothing, and we found each other and built a world together,” he once told his granddaughter.

Steinberg is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The post Milton Steinberg, 96, lover of cantorial music appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.