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, address the needs of an 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 at the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College 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.
Learn more about our Cantor Program
Cantorial Ordination for Spiritual and Educational Leadership (COSEL)
An accelerated, three-year, full-time residential 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. Our student spends three years of study in the fall and spring and remains on campus for two 8-week intensive summer sessions. Students complete a Master of Jewish Education degree together with their ordination requirements.
First-year COSEL graduates remain under our guidance for a full year. Each graduate will be coached by one of our faculty members on a weekly basis. These meetings, via Skype, will allow the new graduates to receive professional development coaching from our faculty.
“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, COSEL student and Cantorial Intern at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA)
Certificate Program in Jewish Sacred Music
Designed for congregants, lay leaders, cantorial soloists, and gabbaim. Coursework may be done online or in a combination of online and on-campus courses, and include individualized cantorial coaching.
“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’s there’s a lot to gain here.”
— Cantorial student
Prayer Leader Summer Institute
During the summer, the School of Jewish Music offers eight weeks of pluralistic programming in leading services and teaching music. The institute is open to students, lay leaders, teachers, and musicians interested in Jewish liturgical music and honing their musical skills.
Hebrew College’s first-of-its kind Rav-Hazzan ordination program prepares rabbis and cantors for leadership in the 21st-century Jewish community.
“Texts that I studied in my Mishnah or Talmud class keeps 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 both the Rabbinical School and the School of Jewish Music, 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.
Caption: Joseph Achron’s Veshomeru, performed by Kol Arev, Hebrew College’s Choir-in-Residence
Caption: L’Cha Ki L’Cha byJoel 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.
Accelerated Three-year program
Our first-of-its-kind accelerated program means lower cost and faster entry into the cantorate — without sacrificing the quality educational experience you’ve come to expect from Hebrew College and the School of Jewish Music.
Tradition and Innovation
Our newly designed 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 Leadership
All cantors ordained at Hebrew College will also earn a Master of Jewish Education degree, 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.
COSEL students have the opportunity to share classes with students in the Rabbinical School and Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education, 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 COSEL 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 three Hebrew College schools — the School of Jewish Music, Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education and Rabbinical School — 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.Cantor Michael McClosky, Can`07, Cantor-Educator at Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill, MA
Hebrew College Innovation Lab
The Hebrew College Innovation Lab
The Hebrew College Innovation Lab, directed by Rabbi Jeff Summit, is a new incubator for Hebrew College graduate students (rabbinic, cantorial and education) and recent Hebrew College alumni/ae in the Boston area to design and implement creative educational, spiritual, social justice and interfaith projects in the Greater Boston Jewish community. Participants receive grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to run – or supplement the running – of a project that they conceptualize and design.Learn more
For information on Jewish Sacred Music Programs:
Cantor Elana Rozenfeld
Interim Program Director
For information on applying to our cantorial ordination program:
Rabbi Daniel Klein
Associate Dean of Admissions & Student Life