Become a Cantor
A Rich and Innovative Curriculum
The Jewish world is changing. Synagogue life is evolving. Today’s congregants are seeking a new kind of spiritual leader, one who invites deeper personal connections, leads dynamic worship services, and creates compelling programming.
Hebrew College stands ready to lead in this new environment. Our Cantorial Ordination Program, is designed to meet the needs of 21st-century Judaism. It fuses traditional Jewish text and liturgy with innovative musical and spiritual programming.
Graduates of the program earn cantorial ordination plus a Master of Jewish Studies or a Master of Jewish Education. Our Cantors will be eligible to apply for membership in both the Cantors Assembly and the American Conference of Cantors.
Hebrew College is a special place. I’m immersed in a community of rabbis and cantors where people talk openly about their emotions, and strive to become better people. It is a pluralistic place, and not in name only, but lived every day. There is a rigor to our pluralism; we learn how to become better listeners and how to be more tolerant and respectful of others. It isn’t simple—it is examined, studied and talked about.– David Wolff, Cantorial student
Sample courses include the following:
- Genres and Themes of Biblical Literature
- Foundations of Biblical Hebrew
- Introduction to Mishna
- Introduction to Talmud
- Basic Nusach
- Jewish Music History
- Private Voice Lessons
- Private Cantorial Coaching
- Kol Arev Chamber Choir
- Choral Conducting
- Accompanied Repertoire for Shabbat
- Contemporary Models of Tefillah Leadership
- High Holidays Liturgy
- Rosh Hashanah Nusach
- Pastoral Counseling
- Three Festivals Liturgy
- Jewish Art Song
Cantorial students have ample opportunity to perform and participate in musical programming at Hebrew College and in Greater Boston. Students sing with the Hebrew College chamber choir, Kol Arev—a music ensemble composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni of Hebrew College. Founder and Artistic Director Lynn Torgove and Music Director Amy Lieberman envision the ensemble serving as ambassadors of the School of Jewish Music and Hebrew College.
Caption: Cantor Melanie Blatt, Can`18, sings J. S. Bach’s “Auch mit gedämpften, schwachen Stimmen” from BWV 36 at her final School of Jewish Music recital. Cantor Blatt was ordained in June 2018 and is currently the Cantor-Educator and Director of Community Engagement at Congregation Beth El in Baltimore, MD.
Students also participate in regular voice recitals; and are eligible to audition for the internationally recognized Zamir Chorale of Boston.
Voice Lessons and Coaching
All cantorial students enter with a basic knowledge of music theory and study privately on campus with renowned voice teachers from the Boston area. Voice lessons are an integral part of our vocal-arts curriculum. These lessons are included at no additional cost.
Each student is assigned a cantorial coach, and coaching sessions are crafted to meet the needs of the individual student. Coaching focuses on leading tefillah, officiating at Jewish lifecycle events, songs for the Jewish year, and guitar proficiency.
The Jewish music history curriculum will immerse students in the music of the Jewish people. Students will study and perform repertoire in Jewish art song, folk song, Jewish musical theater and hazzanut.
As more cantors are being asked to fill pastoral roles and more rabbis are being asked to take on musical leadership of their congregations, Hebrew College recognized that the time has come to merge innovative musical education and pluralistic rabbinical training. The result is our first-of-its-kind Rav-Hazzan (rabbi-cantor) ordination program. Through a blended five- or six-year curriculum, the Rav-Hazzan program awards both rabbinic and cantorial ordination, preparing rabbis and cantors for leadership in twenty-first century Jewish communities.
- Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, Can`16, MAJS`16
- Cantor Becky Wexler Khitrik, Can`14, MAJS`14
- Cantor Jeff Klepper
- Amy Lieberman
- Judith S. Pinnolis
- Cantor Ken Richmond
- Cantor Neil Schwartz
- Sam Zerin, PhD
Vocal and Cantorial
- Cantor Marcie Jonas, Can’10
- Frank Kelley
- Cantor Michael McCloskey, Can’07, MJEd’07
- Hazzan Elias Rosemberg
- Cantor Robbie Solomon
- Cantor Stephen Abramowitz, Can’08, MJEd’08
- AJ Berkovitz, PhD
- Cantor Shanna Zell
Hebrew College discontinued its Certificate in Jewish Sacred Music in 2020. The program offered a part-time graduate-level certificate program (19 credits) and was designed to train individuals to become cantorial soloists, “sh’lichei tsibbur,” ritual directors and Jewish educators who may be called upon to lead or teach tefillah in their synagogues. Students receive a basic grounding in “nusah ha-tefillah,” cantillation, liturgy, Hebrew language, and synagogue skills relevant to the leading of prayer.
Former Admissions Requirements
Students were required to pass an audition process to demonstrate musicianship, musical literacy, vocal ability, and Hebrew proficiency. Specific requirements included the following:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university
- Application fee
- Official transcripts
- One letter of recommendation
- Vocal Audition
The curriculum was composed of six courses, including basic Torah and Haftarah cantillation; basic nusach for Shabbat and High Holy Days; liturgy of the synagogue service; and Jewish music survey. Two semesters of cantorial coaching are also required. Completion of the certificate required demonstration of Hebrew-language proficiency through Hebrew IV as well as an oral examination and written musicianship test.