stuttering jewish cantor

Malachi Kanfer is a conservative Jewish cantor who happens to stutter.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Jewish faith, a cantor sings and leads people in prayer during a religious service. 

Malachi also teaches children and officiates at funerals. For someone who stutters, this role might seem challenging.

But Malachi has found that stuttering and his faith are intertwined. His faith stresses time with Shabbat, creating space and room for reflection.

As someone who stutters, Malachi appreciates the gift of time when he communicates. It gives him confidence, and he’s free to share his authentic self when he’s not pressured to get out the words. 

That said, it took a while for Malachi to be comfortable with his stutter. Like many others who stutter, Malachi’s speech troubles developed at an early age.

He tried to hide it from the world, often changing words and phrases. While that sort of got his point across, it didn’t perfectly express his thoughts.

A turning point came when he heard a podcast with a host who stuttered. The host didn’t try to compensate for his speech imperfections; he let the stutter flow as if it were normal.

Malachi finally felt understood. It was the beginning of his journey toward embracing his stutter and proceeding to a life of public speaking.

Acceptance is critical to living with a stutter. Many people who stutter retreat from the world, fearing ridicule, shame or embarrassment. That can hold them back.

Something else that helped Malachi’s acceptance was attending an event with others who stutter.

People who stutter often feel isolated. Conventions, meet-ups, and listening to podcasts help normalize their condition. 

Malachi was open about his stutter with the rabbi and congregation. He explained the dynamics of stuttering and what happens when it takes hold of his desire to communicate. To his delight, the community welcomed him and his condition. 

People who encounter someone who stutters can help by letting the person speak and openly stutter. Give that person the gift of time, understanding, and recognition.

Read more in Malachi’s own words: