Aaron Bensoussan was born into a most prestigious Moroccan family with roots going back to Maimonides, a 12th century leading Jewish sage. At the tender age of 14 years old, his parents sent him to New York City to learn, with the possibility of becoming a rabbi. There he was exposed to an Ashkanazi (Eastern European) way of life and a dramatically different culture. The young man had to get used to his new freedoms, the ways of Americans and a different menu which included the previously unknown “and strange’ cereal called porridge for breakfast versus his back-home morning meal of croissants and cafe au lait. Things had changed for young Aaron, a lot!
After hearing the great Ashkenazi singer, Yossele Rosenblatt, Aaron fell in love with chazanute, Eastern European Jewish cantorial song. With the odds stacked against him, Aaron was accepted into Jewish schools of higher learning where he studied under world-class composers and cantors. One of his greatest mentors and teachers was the great David Koussevitzky. Aaron graduated and over time this unique cantor accepted synagogue gigs in New York and later on in Toronto.
One Shabbat morning Aaron fused together the kvetch (the cry) of Ashkenazi music with that of Sephardic liturgical music creating a refreshingly new Jewish cantorial motif. He was worried he’d be fired but in fact the congregants loved it. Aaron’s career was established and it skyrocketed. He was asked to sing around the world with many of the greats in places like Australia, Israel and behind the Iron Curtain.
Today Aaron Benssousan is a composer, a teacher, a student of Talmud, a spouse and a father. His work is appreciated across the planet with today’s cantorial stars in concerts and services. Aaron uses his gift of singing for much good and an extension of his kindness.
Listen to the interview and learn about this most talented and soulful man and the many musical and personal challenges he has overcome. HAT RADIO! The Show that Schmoozes.