Lectern and Cantor’s Stand (Amud)
1887, restored 1986–2007
When a rabbi gives a sermon or a cantor sings prayers, he stands at the amud. Located directly in front of the ark, the amud at Eldridge Street is an impressive sight. Like the ark and bimah,it is made of carved walnut. On its front, a music stand is decorated with a large Star of David and graceful cut out scrolls. The amud is adjustable in height to accommodate any cantor or speaker who might be engaged by the congregation.
When the Eldridge Street opened in 1887, congregation leaders believed that inspiring music would help fill the synagogue’s seats. For its opening season, they hired famous cantor Pinhas Minkowsky of Odessa, Ukraine. Known as the “Sweet Singer of Israel,” Minkowsky was offered a 5-year contract at $2,500 a year at a time when the average worker made just $434. Added sweeteners included $1,000 to assemble a choir and first-class tickets to America for his family. It worked. Even the poor of the neighborhood were willing to pay the price to hear the great cantor sing.