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April 28, 2020 5:05 pm

Cantor Alvin Donald, 92, Singer With Operatic Voice

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avatar by Gary Shapiro

Cantor Alvin Donald.

What everyone agrees on is that Cantor Alvin Donald had a sonorous voice. They recall his operatic vocal chords, ones which he used for about 5,000 weddings he officiated at over many decades.

“That man could sing,” his son Mark Donald of Lakeland, Florida, told The Algemeiner. “He had incredible projection and range.”

The singer died April 13.

He was a rare person between Washington D.C. and Baltimore who would officiate at interracial and interreligious marriages. “He always thought it was better to have some kind of Jewish ceremony than no religion at all,” said his daughter Joyce Axelman, according to an obituary in the Baltimore Sun.

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His son Mark told The Algemeiner that his father had an inclusive philosophy that accepted anybody who felt religious enough to have a ceremony with a Jewish orientation.

He graduated Baltimore City College and then joined the Navy at age 17. He loved to regale people with how, as Seaman First Class, he patrolled the Chesapeake Bay for enemy submarines. His son said with a laugh that no sub was ever found.

He grew up in an observant household and graduated from the Talmudic Academy in Baltimore.

He belonged to the choir at his synagogue Chizuk Amuno around the mid-century. He was employed in the insurance field.

He served as cantor at Temple Emanuel in Baltimore from 1962 to 1991, a Reform institution.

According to an obituary on, “His vocation in life was to make people happy. He succeeded,” said Rabbi Gustav Buchdahl, who served at the Temple from 1963 to 2000, and was emeritus until 2016.

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