Course of Study - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Our Cantorial Program at HUC-JIR begins in Jerusalem with a year-long immersion in Hebrew language study, exploring Jewish music, and getting to know the land and people of Israel. Cantorial students form bonds with their future colleagues as they study alongside rabbinical and education students. Students complete the next four years of study at The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York and balance full-time studies with professional learning opportunities as a student-cantor. Students serve congregations within and outside of the New York area on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.

The curriculum includes an integrated approach to liturgical music in which the students learn both Reform repertoire and traditional nusach, along with liturgy and modal theory for Shabbat, High Holy Days, Festivals, and Life Cycles. Students study musicianship, guitar, piano, conducting, composition, and arranging; Judaica and text courses including Bible, Midrash, Philosophy, and History; and professional development courses in education, counseling, and music technology. Students are assigned practica (mini-recitals) during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years culminating in a Senior Recital (based on a thesis) during the 5th year. Students also have the option of taking one additional year of course work in order to earn a Master of Arts in Religious Education.


The Year-in-Israel Program is mandatory for all first-year cantorial students. Matriculation into the Year-in-Israel Program is conditioned upon passing a Hebrew language competency examination, demonstrating the equivalent of at least two years of college-level Hebrew. Learn more >


The curriculum of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music trains cantors for the diverse demands of the 21st-century cantorate. Students prepare to become full-fledged clergy partners in congregations. Learn more >