David Putterman was a U.S. cantor. Born in New York, Putterman was one of the first American-trained cantors to establish a reputation for himself. In his youth he sang and studied with the leading cantors of the time, including Zeidel Rovner (Jacob Samuel Morogowsky) and Josef Rosenblatt. From 1921 to 1933, he was cantor of Temple Israel, Washington Heights, New York, and then moved to the Park Avenue Synagogue.
He had a pleasing tenor voice and was a popular soloist in concert and radio programs. Putterman strove to interest Jewish and non-Jewish composers alike in composing for the synagogue, and commissioned a series of
Services of Contemporary Liturgical Music. An anthology of 38 of these works, Synagogue Music by Contemporary Composers, was published in 1951 and includes compositions by Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Morton Gould, Kurt Weill, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Alexander Gretchaninoff, Roy Harris, and the African-American composer William Grant Still. Putterman was also instrumental in the establishment of the Cantors Assembly of the United Synagogue of America and the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Following publication of this article, allegations of sexual misconduct involving family members were made against Putterman. The Cantors Assembly investigated and found them sufficiently credible that it decided it would no longer use his name for any honors or awards or associate him with any of its publications. “It is important that we acknowledge the harm this man inflicted and not perpetuate a false impression of his righteousness and character,” wrote Assembly President Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz-Boro to the CA membership, in 2018. Park Avenue Synagogue and the Cantors Institute of Jewish Theological Seminary took similar steps.
Jewish Ministers Cantors' Association of America, Di Geshikhte fun Khazzones (1924), 165; Cantors' Voice (Dec. 1952), 7; I. Rabinovitch, Of Jewish Music (1952), 306–7.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved;
Letter from Hazzan Alisa Pomerant-Boro to colleagues of the Cantors Assembly, (November 29, 2018).