The unspoken question whenever one mentions Jews in the twentieth century is “where was G-d? Can the Jewish faith have value after such a catastrophe. Moshe’s life offers some insight and response to these issues.
It is the story about a young Jewish boy, born into a Chassidic environment, a musical child prodigy, trained as a Chazzan – a musical synagogue prayer leader – from the age of nine, who faced the many challenges, and lived to tell the tale.
Moshe’s life from birth to the present included survival of Nazi death camps, serving in the first Israeli army as a Chazzan, and then leading services, performing in concerts and speaking engagements all over the world up to the present day.
ThIs project could be told in several formats –
- a documentary with musical theater recounting certsi epsiodes in Moshe’s life
- musical theater production
- A historical drama tv series focusing on the life of this Chazzan (1922 – present)
Log line 1: How Moshe’s voice and musical abilities were used to lift the spirits of the prisoners in the darkest times in Bergen Belson the concentration camp. And how even Kramer, commandant of Auschwitz and Bergen Belson enlisted Moshe to sing German opera for him alone. And when he was judged and sentened to hang after the war – Kramer asked for Moshe to be present at his hanging.
Log line 2: While serving with the Rabbinic services in displaced persons camps, Moshe found himself officiating at many marriages initiated there: He met the Klausenberger rebbe who insisted he lead the prayers; Moshe recovered his faith: and through strenuous efforts managed to reconnect with some siblings who had survived as well.
log line 3: In 1948, Moshe enlisted in the nascent Israeli army and in the role of the chief cantor was often heard singing on kol Yisrael – Israeli radio, bringing hope and encouragement, to the Israeli people and also at their weddings and the funerals of fallen soldiers.
In 2016 Moshe and Rivka published Moshe’s memoir: The Life of Moishele, Der Zinger: How My Singing saved My Life. It details his life and times from birth to the present and is addressed to those who may not know much about the Jewish way of life before, during, and after the Holocaust.
These are some comments regarding the book:
Andrew Cantor Moshe Kraus, 94, for decades used his legendary voice to uplift audiences across Europe, the Americas, Israel and elsewhere. His listeners included 1400 Jewish children tragically murdered, and the late Elie Weisel. His singing saved his life as a prisoner in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, although he weighed only 35 kilos when the camp was finally liberated. His memoir, written for general readers, contains virtually not a dull line and countless insightful and often highly-amusing anecdotes. In short, a fascinating book.
Hon. David Kilgour, J.D., Nobel Peace Prize nominee
Although Cantor Moshe Kraus was not the Cantor of our synagogue, I met him quite often. He was everywhere, inspiring with his melodies, emotionally moving with his prayers. And if he wanted, he could recite the prayers with a rarely matched combination of speed and accuracy.
But forget about speed when you read this book. Take your time, and digest it. And if you want inspiration, grab this book.
Every time I met Cantor Kraus, he had a story. A different story, always either funny or uplifting. As the years went by, I was wishing more and more that he find a way to preserve all these stories. I suspect that there are many more stories in his arsenal, but for the time being, we should all be grateful to Cantor Kraus for his extraordinary memory, for his enormous life achievements in often impossible circumstances, and for committing to writing the legacy he breathed all his life.
Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, C.M., Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Machzikei Hadas
When I was Canadian Ambassador to Hungary, Cantor Moshe Kraus came to Budapest during Hanukkah in December 2005, to light the candles in the Menorah in front of the magnificent Parliament buildings. I still remember the sight of this man in his 80’s being lifted up by a cherry picker, torch in hand, on eight cold and wintry evenings. I later accompanied him on a tour of Budapest’s Great Synagogue and heard him sing before the Torah ark. He told me that it was from the ghetto around the Synagogue that he and other Jews were led away to the concentration camps.
In the years since returning to Ottawa, I have learned much from Moshe about the love of God, humanity and the power of forgiveness. As Moshe says in his book, he is a storyteller — a wonderful storyteller where tales are offered with a dose of wisdom. This book is Moshe’s gift to our own and future generations who will be able to share his joy and sorrows and benefit from his wisdom and compassion.
Robert Hage, Former Canadian Ambassador to Hungary and Slovenia
Pastor Rudy Fidel and his wife Gina were so impressed with Cantor Kraus’ memoir of his life experiences, that they organized a week of events for Cantor Moshe Kraus and his wife to speak in Winnipeg. I accompanied them on this trip as part of my work to create a documentary featuring Cantor Kraus’ life story which has many twists and turns. On Wednesday, September 12, 2017, Cantor Moshe Kraus, age 95, spoke to a gym full of students at Shaftesbury Public High School. The event was followed and broadcast on the CBC evening news that same evening.
On Sunday morning Cantor Kraus spoke at Pastor Rudy’s Church, Faith Temple. Here he shared a story about a Hungarian Bishop who came to visit Moshe at his synagogue in Budapest, during the war, in order to get Moshe’s help in extracting Moshe’s uncle from a Hungarian prison where Jews were being held.
If you have a story to share and wish to participate in this project contact Abigail Hirsch, Founder of AskAbigail Productions, Montreal
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org