Biography of Lippman Bodoff

Lippman was born in 1930, the eldest of 3 brothers. He was raised in Boro Park, where the family belonged to the Young Israel, but he often attended services at Temple Beth El where he could hear cantors from Europe, with their old, great melodies and nusach.

After his early education at Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Boro Park, he studied at the Talmudical Academy and Teachers Institute of Yeshiva College. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the City College of New York, and then Yale Law School.

Most of Lippman's legal career was spent at AT&T where he was in-house counsel for Western Electric (now Lucent). He served as theoretician in the many year struggle against the government anti-trust forces striving to break up the phone company. He was motivated by his conviction that the Bell System at the time was simply the best phone system in the world, by far.

When AT&T chose divestiture, Lippman decided to accept their offer of early retirement, in 1985. This enabled him to pursue long-standing interests and study Jewish history and literature at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He went on to publish numerous papers in journals such as Tradition, The Edah Journal, Bible Review, Jewish Bible Quarterly, and many others. Rabbi EmanualRackman urged Lippman to publish them in a book, which he did (The Binding of Isaac, Religious Murders,& Kabbalah - Seeds of Jewish Extremism and Alienation, Pub. 2005). The book section of this website includes some reviewer plaudits for the book. During these years, he also served as Assistant and then Associate Editor for Judaism magazine (American Jewish Committee).

As a member of Young Israel of West Hempstead on Long Island, which encouraged members to lead the davening, Lippman was a cherished baaltefilag for the High Holidays for over 20 years. In a private letter to Lippman, one member reminisced:

I have been away from West Hempstead for over twenty years now, and after every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in each of those twenty years, I have thought about writing you this letter….When I was a child growing up in West Hempstead, your davening on the High Holidays meant a great deal to me. It was something special and very wonderful, beautiful, spiritual, sublime. It affected me deeply and it remains with me to this very day. I had no idea then how closely I would come to identify Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper with your davening. I measure every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur by the degree to which the service matches my memory of the beauty of yours. Of course, it never comes close…. When the davening begins to disappoint, as it inevitably does, I close my eyes and find myself back in the Young Israel of West Hempstead, surrounded by family and friends and the wonderful warmth and spirit that I still draw upon. My kids (three girls)… know that Yom Tov means listening to mom reminisce about Mr. Bodoff'stunes! I think even they are fans by now!

I am writing this to say thank you, for what you gave me as I grew up, and for what you continue to give me, year after year.

When members or grown children of members having moved to other communities asked to learn the material they grew up with, Lippman would make them cassette tapes. This continued during his 20+ years at Congregation AhavatAchim in Fairlawn, New Jersey. He made these tapes on his tape recorded in his den, Tommy the dog barking and birds chirping in the background. One can hear him turning the pages of his Birnbaum machzor, and singing to illustrate. As can be deduced from the pace of his teaching and the shorthand instructions, his listeners were not beginners. Lippmannever used his singing ability to perform at any social event, and was actually proud of being unable to read music. He would also never record a "performance" in a recording studio, or even an empty shul on a weekday, so these teaching-tapes are the closest we have to a live recording. The one exception is his whole selichot service, which his wife Meri recorded in shul, as it is not Shabbat or yomtov.

In the early 1980's, Lippman had a minor car accident in which the steering wheel banged his throat. To ensure there was no lasting damage to his larynx, Lippman began voice lessons from a local teacher, Kurt Schlossberger. This did add a certain increased mastery and sheen to his voice, and his teacher helped him to raise his range in order to be more comfortable for the congregation to join.

During the 1980's and 1990's he was inspired by Cantor David Lefkowitz and Conductor Abraham Kaplan, when he attended the rehearsals of the Park Avenue Synagogue services.

We are grateful to Cantor Brian Schanblatt for digitizing and editing the tapes. For Brian, it was a labor of love.

Lippman'sdavening is great for many reasons. The traditional nusach is rigorously maintained; great cantorial pieces are simplified to their melodic core; and always, always, the music illustrates the content and structure of the text. For responsive texts, the music is a dialogue. For the chazan's meditations, the music is personal. For dramatic texts, the music is at times wrenching, at other times uplifting, all according to the text. And the structure of the whole is always visible. On Rosh Hashanah, the music distinguishes malchiot, zichronot, and shofarot. On Yom Kippur, it distinguishes the avodah and asarahharugeimalchut from the main kedushathayom. It is a great nusach, in its whole and in its parts.

We present these recordings in Lippman's memory. He always wanted to share this mode of worship.

Copyright © 2015 Lippman Bodoff. Design by Reserve Step