I arrived at the cantor's office on Wednesday not knowing what to expect. How do you rehearse a religious service? It's not theater, although it comes close. But the concept of doing a dry run of praying seemed very odd.
I was directed to a room with an extra-thick and soundproof set of double doors. Inside, overlooking Broadway and a family of pigeons sitting on a gargoyle, was an L-shaped desk sunk into an ocean of paper and books. A computer sat on one half of the L, a keyboard and mixing deck on the other. It looked like someone tried to cross a music studio with a library and then gave up in the middle.
The cantor pulled another chair over to his desk and motioned for me to sit. "OK, let's start," he said. He cleared some sheet music from the keyboard and, without any further explanation, began to play "Modah ani," the first prayer of the Saturday morning service.