Curriculum:
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 accelerated, three-year Cantorial Ordination for Spiritual and Educational Leadership (COSEL) program, is designed to meet the needs of 21st-century Judaism. It fuses traditional Jewish text and liturgy with innovative musical and spiritual programming. The program features two eight-week summer institutes and a year of post-ordination supervision and advisement.

Graduates of the program earn cantorial ordination plus a Master of Jewish Education and 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, COSEL student.

Year 1: Fall & Spring

Cantorial Courses

  • Genres and Themes of Biblical Literature, 2 semesters
  • Hebrew 5 and 6
  • Introduction to Reading Biblical Texts
  • Introduction to Reading Rabbinic Literature
  • Introduction to Mishna
  • Introduction to Talmud 
  • Basic Nusach
  • Jewish Music History 1
  • Private Voice Lessons, 2 semesters
  • Private Cantorial Coaching, 2 semesters
  • Kol Arev Chamber Choir, 2 semesters
  • Studio Recitals, 2 semesters
  • Vocal Boards

Education Courses

  • Models of Teaching
  • Theory and Practice of 21st Century Jewish Education

Year 2: Summer 1

Cantorial Courses

  • Weekday and Shabbat Liturgy
  • Weekday and Shabbat Nusach
  • Communication and Presentation Practicum
  • Choral Conducting
  • Accompanied Repertoire for Shabbat
  • Contemporary Models of Tefillah Leadership (this includes classes in niggun, klezmer, communal singing, Jewish world music, renewal, and other master classes)
  • Sacred Drumming

Education Courses

  • Pedagogy of Music: Teaching Music
  • Pedagogy of Music: Teaching Tefillah

Year 2: Fall & Spring

Cantorial Courses

  • High Holidays Liturgy
  • Rosh Hashanah Nusach 1
  • Rosh Hashanah Nusach 2
  • Cantillation 1
  • Hebrew 7
  • Jewish History — Medieval/Modern
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Lifecycle Officiating
  • Private Voice Lessons, 2 semesters
  • Private Cantorial Coaching, 2 semesters
  • Kol Arev Chamber Choir, 2 semesters
  • Studio Recitals, 2 semesters
  • Vocal Boards

Education Courses

  • Human Development
  • Special Education or Pedagogic Content elective
  • Education Fieldwork placement, 2 semesters

Year 3: Summer 2

Cantorial Courses

  • Three Festivals Liturgy
  • Three Festivals Nusach
  • Accompanied Repertoire for High Holidays
  • Cantillation for High Holidays
  • Cantillation for Haftarah
  • Composing and Arranging
  • Contemporary Models of Tefillah Leadership (this includes classes in niggun, klezmer, communal singing, Jewish world music, renewal, and master classes)
  • Instrumental workshops
  • Liturgical Hebrew

Education Classes

  • Pedagogy of Music: Facilitating Tefillah

Year 3: Fall & Spring

Cantorial Courses

  • Yom Kippur Nusach
  • Cantillation for Festivals, Eicha, Esther
  • Jewish Art Song
  • Jewish Music History 2
  • Workshop on Liturgical Halakhah
  • Leadership Seminar
  • Cantorial Internship, 2 semesters
  • Private Voice Lessons, 2 semesters
  • Senior Project
  • Private Cantorial Coaching, 2 semesters
  • Kol Arev Chamber Choir, 2 semesters
  • Comprehensive exams in Nusach and Cantillation
  • Ordination Boards

Education Courses

  • Pedagogy of B’nai Mitzvah
  • Special Ed or Pedagogic Content electives, 2 classes
  • Graduate Research Seminar (master’s thesis)

Register for Courses

Performance Opportunities

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.

Music History

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.

Learn More

Faculty

Adjunct Faculty

Vocal and Cantorial

  • Cantor Marcie Jonas, Can’10
  • Frank Kelley
  • Cantor Michael McCloskey, Can’07, MJEd’07
  • Hazzan Elias Rosemberg
  • Cantor Robbie Solomon

Guest Instructors

  • Cantor Stephen Abramowitz, Can’08, MJEd’08
  • AJ Berkovitz, PhD
  • Cantor Shanna Zell

View Faculty & Read Bios

Application Deadline

Cantorial Program : January 15

Contact Info

Rabbi Gita Karasov `20
Director of Admissions & Student Life
gkarasov@hebrewcollege.edu