Chazzan Samuel Linkovsky, a fourth generation Chazzan, was born in Chernowitz, Ukraine, the former USSR, on March 13, 1957. In order to avoid religious persecution by the Soviet authorities, the family moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then to Tbilisi, Georgia, after a major earthquake in Tashkent claimed the family’s home. In 1971, after Samuel’s Bar Mitzvah in the Ashkenazi Shul in Tbilisi, the family immigrated to Israel.
His father, Chazzan Naftaly Linkovsky, a well known and admired Chazzan in Tbilisi, Odessa, and Riga, immediately became Chazzan Rashi at the Cholon Synagogue, near Tel-Aviv. Samuel’s father was his first cantorial tutor and mentor; from age five, he sang with his father in the synagogue. In 1972, Chazzan Linkovsky’s fame reached the United States. He was offered a cantorial position at Agudath Achim Synagogue in Columbus, Ohio, where he brought his family to settle. Samuel sang in his father’s choir at his synagogue from the age of 15. Turning 18, he volunteered for the Israeli Defense Forces and served in the anti-aircraft defense division. Returning to the United States, he was accepted into The Jewish Theological Seminary of America Cantorial School in New York City. He was the youngest student ever to be accepted into the JTS cantorial Program at that time.
Samuel enjoyed a very successful cantorial career, spanning close to 30 years. He served synagogues in the United States and Canada. Congregants of all ages always commented on how he brought a new spirit into the synagogue with his davening, and how they were inspired and uplifted. Children always were attracted to him; he had a special rapport with them. In 1992, he decided to study for a Rabbinical Smicha, which he received, and was ordained Rabbi by The New Seminary for Religion in New York City in 1997.
Samuel recorded professionally on several occasions, but never for commercial purposes. His habit was to give his cassettes away to friends and congregants. He did not seek to appear in concerts, even though he organized many and would often find himself urged to participate. He performed alongside such great cantors as Naftaly Linkovsky, Arieh Finklestein, Ben Zion Miller, Yaacov Motzen, Avi Albrecht, Dov Keren, Sol Zim, Irving Gold, David Bagley, Paul Zim, Aaron Ben Sussan and many others. On more than one occasion, he was called a “Cantor’s Cantor” by great mevinim of Chazzanut.
When Samuel initiated collaboration on this recording with his accompanist Misha Forst, he was introduced to Shlomo Leiderman, an arranger and musician of high caliber. Samuel & Shlomo immediately became friends and began working on the arrangements. A more ambitious recording project gradually took shape. What was originally supposed to be a demo CD of three compositions grew into this compilation of eight cantorial selections. Due to his ultimately passing on November 28th, 2006, this ever-growing recording project was cut tragically short. However, what we do have stands as vibrant testimony to Samuel’s talent and creativity, his heartfelt love for both music and Judaism. It is a truly fitting epitaph, in music, to his memory.
Samuel Linkovsky made major contributions to Jewish communities by serving as their Shaliach Tzibur - Cantor - enriching lives with his talent and beautiful voice. He also served as their spiritual leader - Rabbi - teaching about Judaism and bringing people closer to Hashem.
His memory lives on within those among us who knew him. As Rabbi Gerald Sussman stated in his eulogy, “When you listened to Sam’s davening, you felt the gates of prayer open in your heart and your spirit soar. Whether or not you believed, whether or not you were familiar with Judaism, you were moved. You could feel the emotion and if you really listened, something inside you would change...This voice of song has been stilled and we are left with silence, mourning and tears.” But we are also left with memories of you, Sam, and your special way of touching the lives of so many.
We love and will never forget Chazzan Samuel Linkovsky,
a soul mate and friend, a husband and father, Shaliach Tzibur, Rabbi, and Cantor -- for his love of Judaism, love of family and Chazzanut; for his love of life, his sense of humor,his passion for music and art; for his inspiring spirit and his poetic soul.
Alla, Yona & Rachel Linkovsky