Kingston Synagogue's decision to bring in professional chazanim over the High Holy Days has been rewarded with significantly increased attendances.
Three hundred people were at a midnight selichot service with renowned American cantor Moshe Schulhof. To avoid impacting on shul funds, the event was sponsored by anonymous donors.
The community then enlisted Jerusalem-born, London-based cantor Zvi Lider to lead the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. A shul representative said some members were moved to tears by "the experience of hearing the services tunefully and meaningfully intoned by a 'zogger chazan' [interpretative cantor] – a rare treat for a congregation in south-west London in 2010." His sentiments were echoed by congregants' post-festival entries on Facebook.
Kingston has now established a fund to support regular invitations to talented cantors.