||The Ne'ilah Service by David Nowakowsky (pronouced Novakovsky) cantor of the Brody Synagogue in Odessa. He was born in 1848, in the little town of Malin, Russia. At the age of eight, he left his home on account of his stepmother and came to the city of Berditchev, where he became a choirboy as well as a keen student of harmony, counterpoint and conducting. In 1869, the 21 year old prodigy was summoned from the academic world of Berditchev to Odessa where he became the music director and choirmaster of the famous Brody Synagogue, a position which he held for fifty years.
For thirty years, Nowakowsky was also a music teacher at the Odessa Orphan Asylum which was, understandably, close to his heart. He also taught at three music schools and was Professor of Theory and Harmony at the People's Conservatory. Famous writers, such as Leon Pinsker, Sholem Aleichem, the Cultural Zionist, Ahad Ha'am, and the poet, Chaim N. Bailik, (later to become the Poet Laureate of Israel) were all colleagues of Nowakowsky in turn-of-the century Odessa. Bailik, particularly, was a close friend who inspired some of the composer's great works and was captivated by the nationalistic, spiritually inspirational nature of Nowakowsky's new music. Bailik paid tribute to the unique genius of his friend with these words that were etched into Nowakowsky's tombstone: "There are many stars in the heavens, but only one shines so brightly."
Nowakowsky, more than any other synagogue music composer before or after him, achieved the long-sought goal of many: the quest to enhance ancient melodies in a modern European musical framework without losing the traditional charachter of these chants. Odessa's dignitaries, both military and secular, came to the Brody Synagogue to hear a modern, yet authentic, Jewish worship and the concertizing of beautiful music and singing. The Odessa "Camelot," which nurtured cultural Zionism, came alive in Nowakowsky's choir. Inspirationally interpreted by the fine tenor voice of the scholar, Pincus Minkowsky, the Brody Choir gained universal acclaim by the turn of the century. The collaboration of Nowakowsky and Minkowsky began a brilliant period of thirty years during which the two established the finest synagogue service in Tsarist Russia. Their fame spread throughout Europe.