AJR cantors serve as spiritual leaders.
Recognizing the evolving role of the cantor or hazzan, who functions as a spiritual leader of the Jewish people, AJR pioneered the full ordination (semikha) of cantorial students as Hazzan uMoreh/Morah b’Yisrael (Cantor and Teacher in Israel).
Our vision is for the cantor (hazzan) to be a living resource of all aspects of Jewish musical tradition with a profound mastery of the melodies and chants for all approaches to Jewish prayer, have proficiency in chanting Torah, Haftarah, and the Megillot (Scrolls) and knowledge of all aspects of Jewish musical tradition as well as contemporary Jewish music repertoire.. The contemporary cantor is also charged with leadership and responsibility in many other areas, and must be familiar with classical Jewish texts, Biblical traditions, contemporary Judaic scholarship, education, and the skills of working with individuals and communities in times of joy and sorrow. The Cantorial Program goals are listed here.
We also envision the rabbi and the cantor working with each other as partners, sharing leadership and responsibilities, and recognizing the unique expertise held by each. To enhance mutual understanding, and to foster their common mission of leadership and service, rabbinical and cantorial students study alongside each other to the greatest extent possible. We also anticipate that in some cases a cantor might be the sole spiritual leader of a congregation. The education offered by AJR supports this possibility.
Below is summary of some of the cantorial program requirements. A full description can be found in the Student Handbook.
A total of 136 credits plus four semesters of Fieldwork Support Seminar and four semesters of Core Concepts Seminar are required. The Cantorial Program may be completed in about five years of full time study; longer when completed through part time study.
Vocal and Musical Training and Coaching Vocal instruction is an integral part of the professional training of a cantor. All students are required to take voice lessons throughout their Academy cantorial studies. This instruction is arranged privately by students who are responsible for all associated costs. Advisors are available for guidance and will periodically discuss with students their vocal progress.
Every matriculated cantorial student is required to be coached by a cantorial instructor each semester enrolled at AJR. Students are required to continue their musical study until they reach the required standard in the areas of: harmony, conducting, sight-singing and ear training. An intermediate level of keyboard proficiency will be required; an alternate instrument may be approved.
The required standards are described in the Student Handbook, and may be demonstrated by completing specified levels of study in another approved program. Students with advanced training (preferably at the graduate school or conservatory level), may be exempted from all or part of these requirements. In any case of doubt, students seeking exemption will demonstrate their abilities through an AJR Music Competency Examination.
Steady progress must be made toward this requirement during the first two years of study, with this musical training completed by the end of the second year of study.
The Cantorial Practicum
A practicum is expected of all matriculating students during the course of each year. Every student, regardless of Advanced or Accelerated Standing, shall present at least two practica during the course of their studies. The topic for each practicum will be assigned by the Director of Practica Program in consultation with the student.
Five semesters of post-matriculation AJR Choir are required for ordination. Students not taking AJR Choir in any semester must nevertheless be available for rehearsals and performances.
Comprehensive Examination Prior to eligibility for Senior Status, the student will pass a Comprehensive Examination in Hebrew, Nusah, Cantillation, and Contemporary Repertoire.