Become a Cantor
Meeting the Challenges of Today’s Judaism
Jewish communal life in the 21st century requires talented, knowledgeable, and innovative spiritual leadership. We need cantors who are thoroughly trained in the liturgical history of the Jewish people, and who can at the same time, serve as spiritual leaders in our increasingly complex and diverse Jewish world.
Cantors sing but are not only singers. They teach but are not only teachers. Hebrew College ordains cantors who can communicate a Judaism that is both authentic and accessible, and create vibrant and inclusive spiritual communities.
Students in Hebrew College’s cantorial ordination program come from diverse Jewish backgrounds and are actively encouraged to explore their own and each other’s beliefs and practices in an atmosphere of open inquiry and honest conversation. They graduate with an appreciation for the diversity of contemporary Jewish life and serve as role models for shared learning and friendship among Jews of all experiences and convictions.
About Our Program
A full-time program providing future cantors with the tools they need to serve 21st-century congregations. Classwork, vocal arts, private cantorial coaching, and internships are combined in one comprehensive curriculum. Students complete either a Master of Jewish Studies or an optional Master of Jewish Education degree together with their ordination requirements.
“At Hebrew College, you’ll have an experience, unlike anything other seminaries can offer. It’s a unique place where you can explore Jewish learning and practice on your own terms with great colleagues and amazing faculty.”
(DJ Fortine, Cantorial Student and Cantorial Intern at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA)
“Hebrew College is a forward-thinking and progressive place, from the choices of music and topics being studied, and LGTBQ support—people care about gender pronouns here—to the value everyone places on pluralism. Students come from such different backgrounds and are focusing on so many aspects of Judaism that there’s a lot to gain here.”
— Cantorial student
Hebrew College’s first-of-its kind Rav-Hazzan ordination program prepares spiritual leaders in a dual cantorial and rabbinical ordination program to serve the 21st-century Jewish community.
“Texts that I studied in my Mishnah or Talmud class keep coming up in my cantorial classes. Ideas and concepts that are brought up in cantorial classes are very relevant to my rabbinical classes. I hoped this would be the case, and I am happy to report it is.”
– Matt Goldberg, Rav-Hazzan student
As more cantors are being asked to fill not only educational and musical roles but pastoral roles as well, and more rabbis are being asked to take on the musical leadership of their congregation, the time has come to merge innovative musical education and pluralistic rabbinic training.
Through a blended five- or six-year curriculum that leverages the expertise and resources of our rabbinical and cantorial ordination programs, the Rav-Hazzan (rabbi-cantor) program will award both rabbinic and cantorial ordination.
The program is structured to provide students with the broad range of skills and knowledge they will need to take on multiple spiritual-leadership responsibilities at congregations and other Jewish settings.
There’s no better way to get a feel for our program and community than by watching it in action. Watch and listen to some of our students, faculty and alumni in action — as well as Kol Arev, the chamber choir of Hebrew College which includes cantorial students, rabbinical students, faculty, staff and alumni of the college.
Kol Arev: Chamber Choir of Hebrew College
Kol Arev, (Sweet Voice), the Hebrew College Chamber Choir, performing a wide range of Jewish music for the College and the Greater Boston area, is composed of cantorial students, rabbinical students, faculty, staff and alumni of the college.
Caption: Joseph Achron’s Veshomeru, performed by Kol Arev, Hebrew College’s Chamber Choir
Caption: L’Cha Ki L’Cha by Joel Engel, arr. Meisels with soprano Rachel Slusky, alto Wendy Linden, and pianist I Ying Ling
Pluralistic, Multidenominational Approach
Hebrew College promotes excellence in Jewish learning and leadership within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, intellectual rigor, personal engagement, and spiritual creativity. We empower and inspire individuals to contribute their voices and vision to the Jewish community and to bring Jewish values to bear on the critical issues of our time.
Tradition and Innovation
Our unique curriculum integrates traditional Jewish text, liturgy, and practice with musical and spiritual innovation, greatly broadening the horizons and expanding the career options of our graduates.
Vision of Spiritual Leadership
All cantors ordained at Hebrew College will be trained alongside rabbinical students, enabling them to serve congregations as mentors and facilitators, and as spiritual leaders who can empower their congregants in study as well as in worship.
Cantorial students have the opportunity to share classes with students in the Rabbinical Program and in our graduate Jewish Education Program. In addition, Hebrew College is a member of the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), an association of 10 university divinity schools, schools of theology and seminaries in the Greater Boston. This membership allows Cantorial students the opportunity to cross-register at these schools and study with their students as well.
Rich and Diverse Faculty
The program draws on renowned faculty from all of Hebrew College’s ordination and graduate degree programs as well as resources from member institutions of the Boston Theological Institute.
Proximity to Boston
Located just outside Boston in Newton Centre, Hebrew College is in one of the leading regions of Jewish innovation and entrepreneurship. With its myriad arts and cultural offerings, thriving nightlife and scenic beauty, the city is a great place to live and learn.
I am educating human beings and Jewish people from a noble civilization and tradition to be world citizens and loving and compassionate to all of humanity. We are privileged to have a very unique ‘voice’,’ using our powerful texts, songs and ritual to help congregants on their spiritual journeys. I think the cantor’s role is to be accessible and act as k-lei Kodesh (holy vessels) who should be examples of the human life we want to see. Music is our tool.Rav-Hazzan Michael McClosky, Can`07, Cantor-Educator at Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill, MA