Stateside - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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There are four major areas of studies:

  • Liturgical Music: This is the heart of the DFSSM program. You are introduced to an integrated approach to liturgy, Jewish modes, traditional and Reform repertoire. Year two focuses on Shabbat, Year three on the High Holy Days, Year four on Three Festivals and Life Cycle. Each of these years you will have a practicum (mini-recital) which allows you to explore a portion of a service in depth and to perform it for the students and faculty. In year five you will write a thesis on some aspect of Jewish music and present a related senior recital.
  • General Music: You are expected to develop strong musicianship skills. In addition you will study three semesters of guitar, two semesters of piano, and conducting. Advanced students will also learn arranging and composition.
  • Judaica: You will study Bible, Rabbinic literature, Liturgy and Jewish history and philosophy with the rabbinic faculty. The goal is a broad knowledge of Jewish sources and the ability to teach at the adult education level.
  • Professional Development: You will learn how to teach, how to counsel congregants, and how to communicate effectively as you move through a sequence of courses to enhance your self-knowledge.


As a second year student, you will have a week of orientation in mid-August, the week prior to the Kallah (retreat) that marks the beginning of the school year. You will be given a tour of the school and the neighborhood and meet with various administrators and faculty. You will attend vocal master classes and intensive High Holy Day Repertoire courses. On Friday, you will attend a Shabbat dinner and service at a New York Reform synagogue.

Course of Study

The Liturgical Core is the heart of the DFSSM cantorial program. In years 1-4, the students take an integrated series of courses in liturgy, modes, traditional and Reform repertoire. Year one focuses on Weekday, year two on Shabbat, year three on High Holy Days, year four on Three Festivals and Life Cycle. In years 2-4 students prepare and perform practica that reinforce the core subject for the year. In year five students study advanced repertoire and delve even more deeply into the study of liturgy. This core culminates in the thesis and senior recital.

Students also develop their general musical skills throughout the five years. There are two years of musicianship, three semesters of guitar, two of piano, conducting, arranging and composition. They study music analysis, are introduced to ethnomusicology, and learn to harmonize the Jewish modes. Each student also sings in the chorus.

As future teachers, they also study Bible, Rabbinics, Jewish Theology, and History. They take courses in theory and practice of Jewish education.

Finally, there is a sequence of courses in professional development. Students learn communication skills and family theory. They receive mentoring support for their work at student pulpits and develop their leadership skills through guided study. They take a course in clergy counseling and can study spiritual direction. Many opt to take CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) in the summer.

Frequently Offered Electives

Music Analysis
Jewish Music in American Life (Ethnomusicology)
Arranging and Orchestration
Beyond Misheberach - Music of Debbie Friedman
Coaching in the folk genre
Music as Midrash
Art of Meaningful worship
Advanced Nusach and improvisation
Golden Age of Cantorial Music
Intermediate Conducting
Creative Keyboard Accompaniment
Technology for Clergy