Course of Study - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Course of Study

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The Cantorial Certification Program at HUC-JIR is a cohort based program, during which students will participate as a community in kallot, various online classes, individual coaching, professional development sessions, and independent study, resulting in Post-Baccalaureate Certification. In addition to the kallot, which must be attended in full by every participant, students should expect to spend a minimum of 4 years in the cohort, and to set aside at least 6-8 hours every week for online courses and study. In addition to all of the above, attendance at a six-week summer ulpan at Taube Family Campus, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem will be mandatory.

The curriculum includes an integrated approach to liturgical music and cantorial studies, in which the students deepen their knowledge of both Reform repertoire and traditional nusach, along with liturgy and modal theory for Shabbat, High Holy Days, Festivals, and Life Cycle rituals. Students will also participate in in-depth study of the liturgy itself, along with coursework in Bible, Midrash, Philosophy, and History; and professional development courses in education, counseling, and congregational dynamics. Face to face kallot will also give students the opportunity to teach, facilitate worship, and perform in a setting that will provide honest feedback from mentors and the community.

Course of Study – Format and Timing

The curriculum of the Certification Program of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music trains cantors for the diverse demands of the 21st century congregation.  Students will prepare to become clergy partners in their congregations, as well as members of the American Conference of Cantors.

The Certification curriculum will consist of three “cycles,” each cycle being equivalent to an academic year.  While timing might be a bit flexible depending upon the calendar year, Jewish holy days, etc, each cycle consists of:

    • An Introductory Kallah:  5 days of intensive study, worship, and community. The course of study for each cycle will begin here.
    • 9-10 weeks of online study (which will include at least one weekly online class at a set time)
    • A second kallah of the same duration as above
    • 9-10 weeks of class (see above)
    • A third culminating kallah for that cycle. 

A Fourth cycle will consist of kallot, as well as preparation for a final recital/concert at one’s synagogue and extensive oral comprehensive exams at the end of the year.

In addition to these four years of study, students will be expected to

    • Join the certification community for 6 weeks of summer study in Israel at Taube Family Campus, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.
    • Maintain one’s position as Cantorial Soloist in one’s congregation.
    • Complete any additional independent study required by HUC-JIR in order to satisfactorily meet the standards determined for Cantorial Certification.

Each cycle will contain both Liturgical Arts core courses and Judaic Studies courses. The Liturgical Arts courses will include Shabbat, High Holy Days, Shalosh Regalim, and Life Cycle Liturgy. Judaic Studies coursework will include Bible, Rabbinic Texts, Jewish Theology and History, and the History of the Cantorate. In addition to Liturgical Arts and Judaic Studies coursework, kallot will include sessions in all areas of professional development, including music education, choral repertoire, spiritual development, synagogue management, communications skills, life cycle counseling, and more.      

Students are expected to maintain and develop their levels of expertise throughout the program in Hebrew, accompaniment skills (either piano or guitar), musicianship and sight-singing, and vocal health.  All students are expected take voice lessons in their own communities as part of the certification program.

Students will be asked to reflect upon their experiences within their congregations, providing curricular plans, service outlines, divrei Torah, eulogies, wedding blessings, creative ritual texts, and other such documentation for guidance, discussion and assessment

Please note:  Although this course of study is designed as a four year program, Certification will be granted only upon satisfactory completion of all program requirements, regardless of timing.