Guide to the Cantor Morton Shanok Papers
undated, circa 1943-2002

P-995

Processed by Shannon Struble

American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: (617) 226-1245

Email: reference@ajhsboston.org

URL: http://www.ajhsboston.org

© 2017, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD by Lindsay Sprechman in April 2015. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Shanok, Cantor Morton
Title: Cantor Morton Shanok Papers
Dates:undated, circa 1943-2002
Abstract: Morton Shanok was Cantor at Temple Beth El in Lynn (and later Swampscott) for thirty-two years and, after his retirement, High Holiday Cantor at Temple B’nai Abraham and Religious Cultural Coordinator at the Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged. He served in the U.S. Army as assistant army chaplain from 1942-1945. He was a founding member of the Cantors Assembly and helped write the curriculum at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music of the Jewish Theological Seminary. The material in the collection consists of photographs, correspondence, and documents primarily related to music and Cantor Shanok’s position at Temple Beth El.
Languages: The collection is in English, French, and Hebrew.
Quantity: .75 linear feet (1 manuscript box, 1 half-mauscript box, 1 OS folder)
Identification: P-995
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Biographical Note

Morton Shanok, Chaplain A. Haselkorn, and two other men identified only as Irving and Milt, circa 1945 in France.

Morton Shanok was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1910. He graduated from New Haven High School in 1927 and apprenticed under Cantor Adolph Katchko in New York. His first position as cantor was at Temple Beth-El in Rockaway Park, New York, but four years into his tenure, he was drafted into the United States Army. He served as assistant army chaplain during World War II and was instrumental in organizing a safe refuge for Jewish orphans in France. After the war, the orphans were brought to Israel by the Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC).

Cantor Shanok was discharged from the Army in 1945, and he attended the Manhattan School of Music to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in music. After he graduated, Cantor Shanok and his wife, Beatrice Cohen Shanok, moved to Massachusetts, where he was elected cantor of Temple Beth El in Lynn (later Swampscott). He held this position for thirty-two years.

While at Temple Beth El, Cantor Shanok organized a professional choral society at the synagogue, which often performed with accompaniment by the North Shore Philharmonic. He also founded one of the North Shore’s first youth choirs. He tutored hundreds of bar and bat mitzvah students, and in his later years, this included the children of those he had tutored in the past.

Cantor Shanok retired from Temple Beth El in 1980, and a tribute was held by the congregation to honor his contribution to their lives. He then served as High Holiday Cantor at Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly for six years before becoming the Religious Cultural Coordinator at the Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged in Swampscott. He was named Person of the Year at the Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged in 1990.

While at Temple Beth El, Cantor Shanok also helped change the course of the cantorial profession. He was a founding member of the Cantors Assembly of the National Association of Conservative Cantors and served on the Executive Board. He was also one of the cantors who wrote the curriculum for the H.L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music of The Jewish Theological Seminary. He later received an Honorary Doctorate from the College for his contributions to the profession.

Cantor Shanok died in 2006. He was preceded by his first wife, Beatrice, who died in 1965, and by his second wife, Dorothy Rose Shanok, who died in 2001.

References

Materials from the collection.

“Morton Shanok.” Jewish Music Research Centre (Accessed March 18, 2015), < http://www.jewish-music.huji.ac.il/content/morton-shanok>.

Chronology

1910Morton Shanok is born.
1927Graduates from New Haven High School.
1938Elected Cantor of Temple Beth-El in Rockaway Park, New York.
1942Drafted into the Army.
1945Discharged from the Army.
1948Elected Cantor of Temple Beth El in Lynn, Massachusetts.
1965Beatrice Shanok dies.
1970Morton Shanok marries Dorothy Rose.
1980Retires from Temple Beth El.
circa 1989Becomes Religious Cultural Coordinator at Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged.
2001Dorothy Shanok dies.
2006Morton Shanok dies.
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Scope and Content Note

The Morton Shanok Papers contain records relating to Shanok’s cantorial activities, as well as his role as assistant army chaplain in the U.S. Army. A large part of the collection consists of photographs. One group of photographs was taken between the years 1943 to 1945 when he was in the Army, and another group records the tribute ceremony held in honor of Cantor Shanok’s retirement from Temple Beth El. A separate folder contains the written documents related to the tribute ceremony, including the guest book and list of attendees, and copies of the invitation and program.

The collection includes a folder of correspondence sent to Cantor Shanok in his official capacity as Cantor, most of which consists of letters of congratulation or thanks and invitations. Another folder holds various newspaper clippings, programs, announcements, newsletters, and notes for speeches, all related to music or his cantorial role. Folders in this first box are arranged alphabetically.

An oversized folder contains awards from the Cantors Assembly and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and another box contains Shanok’s 1927 yearbook from New Haven High School and a plaque given to him by Temple Beth El in appreciation for his service there.

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Arrangement

This collection is arranged into a single series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott, Mass., I-574

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Cantor Morton Shanok Papers; P-995; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore in 2013.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

Click the box in the request column to learn more about viewing materials at the New England Archives of AJHS.

 

Series I: Cantor Morton Shanok Papers, undated, circa 1943-2002

In English, French, and Hebrew.
Boxes 1-2.
Arrangement:

Folders in Box 1 are arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
11Correspondence 1960-1985request_box
12Miscellaneous undated, 1945-2002request_box
13-4Photographs undated, 1943-1945request_box
15Tribute 1980request_box
16Tribute–Photographs 1980request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
27Yearbook 1927request_box
28Plaque 1961request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
OS1Awards 1958, 1980-1983request_box
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