Thursday, June 4, 2020 -
Print Edition

Chazzan Koll

My relationship with Cantor Isaac Koll and Torah study goes back to my high school days. Before any of us could drive, my sister Mimi and I were in carpool together with our friend, Cantor Koll’ daughter Michelle, along with the Twerski girls, Chavie and Bassi.

A bright orange 1970’s style car would pull into the driveway, there would be a honk-honk that put us in a flurry of activity, gathering our last minute things and running out to the car so we would be on time.

The Koll’s orange car brought a lot of fun with it, carrying the sense of adventure and childlike playfulness of Chazzan Koll himself.

A small  example:

On birthdays or other special occasions, Chazzan Koll and Michelle would surprise us with birthday treats, such as a box of creamy custard eclairs, plus birthday cards. Of course, it goes without saying, Chazzan Koll serenaded us with a personalized cantorial rendition “Happy birthday” and (the Hebrew version) “Yom Huledet Same’ach.”

But come Friday morning, it was all business. We had to be prepared. It was Friday, after all, erev Shabbos. And Chazzan Koll came armed with a list of questions essentially adding up to nothing less than a quiz on that week’s Torah portion or parsha.

You might think that as high school students we would resent that, rolling our eyes at the pressure of school starting in a car a half hour earlier than the official bell — another subject to have to study and cram. But nothing could be further from the anticipation with which we looked forward to these Friday morning rides with Chazzan Koll, especially Mimi and Bassi.

The rest of this article is available in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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