Zawel (Zevulun) Kwartin

Cantor & composer

Kwartin was born in Novo-arkhangelsk, Ukraine, and was first exposed to the cantorial tradition through his involvement in the choir of a local synagogue. Kwartin went on to study chazzanut formally in Vienna, where he later received his first official cantorial post. In his early career, Kwartin also served several communities in St. Petersburg, and also served at the Tabak Temple in Budapest. In 1919, he emigrated to the United States, settling in Borough Park, Brooklyn where he served as the head cantor at Temple Emanuel. It was also during this time that Kwartin released a number of commercial recordings, as was customary of premier cantors in the United States at the time. In 1926, Kwartin moved to Eretz Israel, settled in Tzfat, and began touring extensively, leading services and giving concerts at synagogues and performance halls throughout the country.  Kwartin returned to the United States in 1927 to accept a position in Newark, New Jersey, remaining there until his death in 1953. Kwartin’s improvisations on traditional synagogue melodies were recorded and transcribed for the three volume collection, Zemirot Zevulun, which was released in two parts: the first two volumes in 1928; and a supplementary volume, T’fillot Zevulun, in 1938.