[Leonard] Bernstein came from a family of Talmudic scholars, but was only moderately observant in his adult years. However, Bernstein would hire a taxicab for Yom Kippur and go around Manhattan “shul-hopping.” He did this because he loved to hear many different cantors’ interpretations of the traditional prayers.
Bernstein knew, of course, that riding was forbidden on the holiday, so he would have the cab driver drop him off a block away from each synagogue so that synagogue-goers would not see the famous conductor riding on the holiday.
—Jewish World Review, October 10, 2005
Caveat: A morning in the library hasn’t turned up corroboration of this story, even by Joan Peyser, who presumably would have jumped on it like a Pomeranian on a meatball. Sounds like Lenny, though.
The issue here really would be that Leonard Bernstein would be able to get into a Yom Kippur service (or any one of the high holy day services) without a ticket or something that would reserve him a seat for a temple where he was not a member. But then again, he was Leonard Bernstein.>>I imagine that this story could be an elaboration on reality. I also imagine that Bernstein might have been more interested in the ways the various rabbis read from the Torah (sang, actually–and for the high holy days it is in a special high holy day “trope”) rather than the quality of the cantors, who he could hear at any time because he was Leonard Bernstein.