Cantor Morton S. Shanok worked for over sixty years as cantor and as chaplain to build the cantorial profession in North America into what it is today. Shanok was born in New Haven, Conneticut in 1910. He graduated from New Haven High School in 1927, and trained with Cantor Adolph Katchko before World War II. Afterward he began to serve as a cantor at Temple Beth-El in Rockaway Park, New York. With outbreak of the war, he served in the US Army as assistant chaplain from 1942 to 1946. After Being discharged from the army, he attended Manhattan School of Music and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music.
Shanok was one of a group of cantors who established the curriculum at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School and the College of Jewish Music of the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He was a founding member of the Cantor’s Assembly of the National Association of Conservative Cantors; he served on their executive board and edited its periodical, “The Cantor’s Voice.” He also served as president of the Cantors and Jewish Ministers Association of New England.
Shanok received a honorary Doctorate of Music from the H.L Miller Cantorial School and the College of Jewish Music in New York for his life-long contribution to the cantorial profession. His first cantorial post was at Temple Beth El in Rockaway Park, Long Island New York, where he served from 1938 to 1942. After the war he came to Lynn and served for 32 years as Cantor of Temple Beth El of Lynn and later of Swampscott. He then served for six years as the High Holiday Cantor at Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly and then became Religious Cultural Co-Ordinator at the Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged in Swampscott.
Shanok was the husband of first wife Beatrice (Cohen) Shanok, who died in 1965, and of second wife Dorothy (Rose) Shanok, who died in 2001.
Shanok died at age 95 on Monday, January 30, 2001 in a local nursing home in Peabody.