The goals of AJRCA’s Cantorial School are clear. We train men and women to become cantors who will be a living resource of the varied aspects of the Jewish musical tradition. They should have mastery of the melodies and chants for Jewish prayer as well as the contemporary modes and sounds that resonate with today’s Jewish community. They must also have the ability to successfully impart the vital spiritual/musical connection to worship and inspire those they serve. And, finally, we want our cantors to be proficient in all aspects of clergy life. While ambitious, these objectives have been achieved, in large part, because of the major components that define our Cantorial School. A combination of the traditional and the innovative, together they are the reason why we are producing cantors who are uniquely qualified to meet the needs of the 21st century American Jewish community.
We believe that our Jewish musical heritage can lead us to the gates of spiritual fulfillment and, as such, immersion in our Jewish musical tradition is one of the Cantorial School’s major imperatives. This is enhanced by the fact that, as a transdenominational school, we honor the wisdom of all the denominations which provides our students with the invaluable opportunity to study the full range of approaches to Jewish learning, values, and practices. We also focus on the contemporary world’s Jewish music scene and its application to our graduates’ professional responsibilities. There is a substantial emphasis on pastoral counseling and other professional skills because we want our graduates to be well-equipped to help those they serve. And, recognizing their unique attributes, we consciously nurture and develop the personal skills and natural gifts of each student in order that they may reach their greatest potential.
Upon completion, graduates of the Cantorial School, are ordained as “Hazzan and Teacher in Israel,” and receive a Masters Degree in Jewish Sacred Music. This requires solid background in Jewish learning, including full proficiency in the Hebrew language. Also required are sound musical and vocal skills. Successful completion generally requires five years of full-time study, with part-time study options available. A Masters thesis is required for ordination.
The Greenfeld Cantorial Library of Jewish Music
Cantor Judy and Michael Greenfeld gave the Academy a grant of $25,000 in order to establish the Greenfeld Cantorial Library of Jewish Music. The Library is an invaluable physical and programming resource for cantors, soloists, musicians, students and laypeople interested in the richness of Jewish music. The spiritual leader of the Nachson Minyan (Encino, CA), Cantor Greenfeld received her ordination from the Academy in 2004 and is a member of its Board of Directors. For those interested in donating funds to the Library and/or Jewish music-related resources, please call the Academy office at 310-824-1586.