Inaugural Cohort of Cantorial Certification Program Completes First Year of Study

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kol hakavod to cantorial soloists Sarene Appelbaum, Sheera Ben David, Rachel Gottleib Kalmowitz, Neil Michaels, Rachel Reef-Simpson, and Lori Shapiro, all of whom are now in their second of four years in the new Cantorial Certification Program at HUC-JIR. 

The Cantorial Certification Program is designed for cantorial soloists who are unable to attend the full-time Ordination program but would like to earn their cantorial credentials through this part-time, distance learning program.  Cantorial Certification Program students come to our New York campus three times each year to study face-to-face, and also attend HUC-JIR’s summer ulpan at our Jerusalem campus.  Weekly live, online classes are supplemented by readings, cantorial coaching, chevruta study, and the opportunity to use and reflect on their learning in their own congregations on a day-to-day basis.

Patty Beck, a member of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors and President of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, says of soloist Lori Shapiro, “Lori is a sensational cantorial soloist who brings spirituality through her music into our congregational home.  The Cantorial Certification Program has already increased the depth of her knowledge that she continually brings to our Shabbat and holiday services!”

Faculty members notice that there is a difference working with students who are already immersed in synagogue life even as they are studying here at HUC-JIR.  Rabbi Kim Geringer states, “What has impressed me after this first year is the maturity and experience that this cohort brings to their studies and which will, ultimately, also inform their future cantorates. Their prior professional work adds a significant dimension to their developing identities as cantors.” 

Cantor Rosalie Boxt adds, “This is a wonderful opportunity to work with students who are already fully ensconced in synagogue life; who have experience with leadership, calendar, life cycle rituals; who have relationships built around trust and commitment.  These students then can take what they learn in the Cantorial Certification Program and dig deeper, experiment, translate the learning and new ideas into what make sense in a living and breathing community.”

Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Program Coordinator, is extremely enthusiastic about the future of this cohort, and the Cantorial Certification Program in general.  “There are so many congregations whose soloists would benefit from this program.  It raises the level of competence, confidence, knowledge, and spirituality of the students, and prepares them to be of much greater service to their congregations and rabbinic partners.”

Click here to learn more about the curriculum, admissions, faculty, and the current cohort.

Interviews for the next cohort will take place in February 2014. Please contact Cantor Ellen Dreskin for further information: edreskin@huc.edu or 212-824-2255.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu