Father killed on way to buy bagels

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 6, 2008

Klezmer violinist and father-of-three Michael Kahan was stabbed to death on his way to buy bagels in Crumpsall, Manchester, on Sunday morning.

The stabbing took place close to the State Fayre kosher bakery and was captured on the CCTV cameras of Heaton Park synagogue, which overlooks the murder scene.

An off-duty doctor and nurse were quickly on the scene and performed life-saving techniques. The victim was rushed to North Manchester General Hospital but died soon afterwards. Mr Kahan would have been 40 today and a big celebration had been planned. The Manchester coroner said the funeral would be delayed for legal reasons.

Alarmed when he had not returned home, his wife, Eva, went out to look for him and saw the police cordon. The couple married last August — his children were from a previous marriage — and she said she was heartbroken. She recalled her husband as “a very kind, gentle and gifted man. He was just going to buy sunday breakfast but he never came home.

“He had a great sense of humour, was very chatty and instantly likeable. He was simply a nice guy and we are devastated at what has happened. We just want to be left to grieve in peace.”

A neighbour told the JC that Mrs Kahan would travel to South London today to mourn with the victim’s parents, Irene and David.

The CCTV footage from the synagogue cameras was passed to police, who made arrests within a day of the stabbing.

Michael Kahan formed Klezmer Gourmet with Ros Hawley 10 years after they studied together at the Royal Northern College of Music. “Words can’t express how I feel,” Ms Hawley said. “It’s so sad, tragic and pointless. We’re grieving and feeling for Eva. My husband played at their wedding.”

The duo — finalists in the JC’s Klezmer Idol contest last year — had been due to perform at the Feast festival in South Manchester on Sunday. Ms Hawley intends to fulfil the engagement with her husband as “a tribute to Michael”. Other musicians will remember him at a jamming session in London. A fortnight ago, Mr Kahan performed at the Israeli Dance institute sessions at Sinai Synagogue in Leeds.

Laoise Davidson of the London-based Jewish Music Institute said that although Mr Kahan was not religious, klezmer “was an avenue to express his Jewishness. He adored klezmer and was a regular at KlezFest [the major British klezmer event].

“We performed together for the West London Synagogue kindergarten and he really enjoyed that. He knew how to get down with the kids. He was getting more and more involved in teaching and was talking about setting up klezmer classes in Manchester. To lose someone like this is really heartbreaking.” Another friend and musical associate, Sue Cooper, said he should be remembered for taking Jewish music to the wider musical world.

Carol Isaacs, one of Mr Kahan’s students at JMI classes at SOAS, University of London, said he was “an inspiring teacher. He made it seem so wonderful, conveying his passion and enthusiasm for klezmer and giving it the feel-good factor. Not only did he teach us the music but also the dance that went with it — how it was done in the shtetl.”

Back in Manchester, a neighbour of the Kahans, who declined to be named, recalled the couple’s happiness on their wedding day. “Because Eva is from Germany, the couple performed a German tradition of smashing plates at their doorway. We were invited to participate. Michael was an affable young man and his music was his life. He will be greatly missed. I’m gutted.”

Jonathan Mills, 31, from Chadderton, has been charged with murder. He appeared before Tameside magistrates on Wednesday and was remanded in custody.

Last updated: 5:02pm, July 22 2009