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I’ve written in a previous article about Reuben Caplin (Ruby), my voice teacher and choral conductor at the reform temple that I sang at many years ago; well here’s another Ruby story.

I had been singing at the temple for a short time, and was starting to find my niche as the tenor cantorial soloist. I came for my voice lesson as usual on Tuesday morning, and halfway through the lesson Ruby stops me, and asks me a question.

“Phil, you know that I’m also in charge as the conductor of the Jewish Singing Society, locally; a great bunch of singers! Most of them are much older than you. There’s a piece of music that I’ve always wanted to do at a concert, but I didn’t have the tenor to sing the main part. I thought you’d be great! It’s simply called Havdalah by a tremendous Jewish composer by the name of Zavel Zilbert, it’s tremendous!”

“Ruby”, I said, “no disrespect intended, but are you crazy?! I’ve heard about the Jewish Singing Society, and they’re great! I’m just a kid!”

“You may be a kid Phil, but you can sing. I’ll teach it to you, and when we’re ready, we’ll rehearse it with the Singing Society.”

Weeks went by and Ruby drilled me with Havdalah. After three weeks, I rehearsed it with the Singing Society. They loved it, and in two weeks I sang it at a concert. The audience loved it and gave the Singing Society and me a standing ovation. Afterwards Ruby said to me, “not bad for a Kid.”

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