The Star Fellows Program - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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The Star Fellows Program

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Kickstart your future as a Jewish leader today

Star Fellows Lauren Levy, Rayna Green, and Lucy Batterman

Star Fellows Lauren Levy, Rayna Green, and Lucy Batterman

The Star Fellows Program is dedicated to preparing cantors who will transform synagogue life, ensuring a joyful and deeply meaningful experience from generation to generation.

Three cantorial students each year have the opportunity to be Star Fellows. Students who are admitted to the program in their third year of the five-year course of study join rabbinical student peers in wrestling with personal theology, sociology of religion, and organizational dynamics. They meet with clergy who are leading synagogues and churches that are renowned for their worship services and outreach to congregants and community. Between their third and fourth years of study, Star Fellows have a seven-week internship where they work with dynamic rabbi-cantor teams who serve as their mentors.

In addition, Star Fellows are introduced to future opportunities for service to their profession. They attend executive meetings of the American Conference of Cantors, learning about volunteer leadership roles and the Conference’s commitment to the ongoing professional development of the cantorate.

Today, the cantor is more than a guardian of sacred musical traditions and an advocate for innovative new melodies. The cantor is a clergy partner with the rabbi, participating in every aspect of synagogue life. Star Fellows will be equipped to demonstrate the leadership skills that this new paradigm demands.

The Fellowship offers full-tuition for three years and a $10,000 per-year stipend.  The stipend helps the student minimize the need for extra after-school jobs to defray their expense while in school.  In this way, the student has more time to address the demands of this challenging supplementary program. Finally, the student’s living and travel expenses, as well as the cost of programs, are covered. 

The impact of the Star Fellows Program promises to be enduring. Perhaps Cantor Alicia Stillman, a recent Star Fellow, said it best:

It seems that after every meeting, I am awash with inspiration--from the leaders we meet who are changing synagogue life, to writers and thinkers who influence the Judaism of which we are a part. Now, in my third year of the program, really the last semester of this very rich and intense program, I again stop to reflect on my growth, what has changed within me, in how I practice, think, and behave. I feel different--I think differently--bigger, broader, in musical terms I would insert a musical marking "broadly." The program has influenced me as a cantor, a student, a teacher; but perhaps even more so as a woman and human being.