A HAZZAN or CHAZZAN (Hebrew : חַזָּן ħazzān, Yiddish
KHAZN Ladino HASSAN) is a
Jewish musician, or precentor , trained in
the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer . In
English, this prayer-leader is often referred to as cantor , a term
also used in Christianity .
Shaliah tzibbur: the role of the hazzan
* 2 Growing importance
* 3 Qualifications
* 4 Female cantors in non-Orthodox
* 5 Professional status
* 5.1 Training
* 6 Golden age
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
SHALIAH TZIBBUR: THE ROLE OF THE HAZZAN
The person leading the congregation in public prayers is called the
shaliach tzibbur (Hebrew for "emissary of the congregation"), a
ħazzān or cantor.
Jewish law restricts the role to adult Jews. See
Cantor in Reform
Judaism . In theory, any lay person can be a
sheliach tzibbur; most synagogue-attending
Jews will serve in this
role every now and again. One who cannot or doesn't pronounce his
words properly, including merging pharyngeals with glottals or
uvulars, shouldn't be appointed unless no one else better is
available. In practice, those with the best voice and the most
knowledge of the prayers serve much more often.
(Hebrew plural of hazzan) are known to repeat words during prayer
(although it's more proper to not repeat words); Yemenite sh'luchei
tzibbur, on the other hand, will never repeat words.
There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services,
but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in
classical rabbinic sources.
Jewish prayer services are collected in a
prayerbook known as the siddur .
The office of the hazzan increased in importance with the centuries.
As public worship was developed in the Geonic period, and as the
knowledge of the
Hebrew language declined, singing gradually
superseded the didactic and hortatory element in the worship in the
Even in the oldest times the chief qualifications demanded of the
hazzan, in addition to knowledge of Biblical and liturgical literature
as well as the prayer motifs (known as "steiger"), were a pleasant
voice and an artistic delivery; for the sake of these, many faults
were willingly overlooked. The hazzan was required to possess a
pleasing appearance, to be married, and to have a flowing beard.
Sometimes, according to
Isaac of Vienna (13th century), a young hazzan
having only a slight growth of beard was tolerated.
that the hazzan who recited the prayers on an ordinary Sabbath and on
week-days need not possess an appearance pleasing to everybody; he
might even have a reputation not wholly spotless, provided he was
living a life morally free from reproach at the time of his
But all these moderations of the rule disappeared on holidays; then
an especially worthy hazzan was demanded, one whose life was
absolutely irreproachable, who was generally popular, and who was
endowed with an expressive delivery. Even a person who had once
litigated in a non-
Jewish court, instead of to a
Jewish court, in a
disputed question could not act as hazzan on those days, unless he had
previously done penance. However many authorities were lenient in
this regard and as long as a cantor was "merutzeh l'kehal" desired by
the congregation, he was permitted to lead the prayers even on the
holiest of days.
Today, a hazzan, particularly in more formal (usually not Orthodox)
synagogues, is likely to have academic credentials, most often a
degree in music or in sacred music, sometimes a degree in music
education or in
Jewish religious education or a related discipline.
The doctor of music degree is sometimes awarded to honour a hazzan.
FEMALE CANTORS IN NON-ORTHODOX JUDAISM
Although traditionally a hazzan was always a man, today a woman can
be a hazzan (also called a cantor) in all types of
Judaism except for
Julie Rosewald , called “
Cantor Soprano” by her
congregation, was America’s first female cantor (though she was born
in Germany), serving San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El from 1884 until
1893, although she was not ordained.
Barbara Ostfeld became the
first female cantor to be ordained in Reform
Judaism in 1975, and
Erica Lippitz and
Marla Rosenfeld Barugel became the first female
cantors in Conservative
Judaism in 1987. The
Cantors Assembly , a
professional organization of cantors associated with Conservative
Judaism, did not allow women to join until 1990.
Sharon Hordes became
the first cantor (female or otherwise) in Reconstructionist
Avitall Gerstetter , who lived in Germany, became the first
female cantor in
Jewish Renewal (and the first female cantor in
Germany) in 2002.
Susan Wehle became the first American female cantor
Jewish Renewal in 2006; however she died in 2009. The first
American women to be ordained as cantors in
Jewish Renewal after Susan
Wehle's ordination were Michal Rubin and
Abbe Lyons , both ordained on
January 10, 2010. In 2001
Deborah Davis became the first cantor
(female or otherwise) in Humanistic Judaism; however, Humanistic
Judaism has since stopped graduating cantors.
Tannoz Bahremand Foruzanfar , who was born in Iran, became
the first Persian woman to be ordained as a cantor in the United
As of 2011, the Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion ,
the main seminary for Reform Judaism, has ordained 208 women cantors.
The role of hazzanim as a respected full-time profession has become a
reality in recent centuries. In the last two centuries
Jews in a
number of European communities, notably Germany and Britain, came to
view professionally trained hazzanim as clergy and the hazzan as the
deputy rabbi. After the enlightenment, when European nations gave full
citizenship and civil rights to Jews, professionally trained hazzanim
were accepted by the secular governments as clergy in the same way
that rabbis were accepted as clergy.
In an interesting turn of events, the United States government
recognized cantors as the first
Jewish clergy, even before rabbis were
recognized—as a congregation could be organized and led by a
Jewish "laymen", who would not have the expertise in
liturgy a hazzan would have, newly forming congregations in the late
19th and early 20th centuries sometimes hired a hazzan for a synagogue
(and made sure that a kosher butcher was established in the
neighborhood) for some time before setting about hiring a rabbi,
seeing the hazzan (and the butcher) as a more immediate need. The
hazzan therefore solemnized marriages and otherwise represented the
congregation in the eyes of civil authorities.
In the United States, many hazzanim supplement their ministry by also
earning certification as and working as mohels , for bris ceremonies.
In the United States there are three major organizations for
professionally trained hazzanim, one from each of the major Jewish
American Conference of Cantors —Reform
Cantors Assembly —Conservative
* Cantorial Council of America—Orthodox
Many members of the
Cantors Assembly are trained at the H. L. Miller
Cantorial School and College of
Jewish Music at the
Seminary of America . Many members of the American Conference of
Cantors are trained at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at
Hebrew Union College
Hebrew Union College —
Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred
Music (New York) Reform. Both of these programs offer a five-year
training program. Members of the Cantorial Council can train at the
Sarah Belz School of
Jewish Music at
Yeshiva University in
New York City.
ALEPH, the movement for
Jewish Renewal, includes a cantorial training
program as part of its ordination program.
Full cantorial training is also offered by the Cantorial School of
the Academy for
Jewish Religion (California) in Los Angeles, the
Cantorial Program at the similarly named Academy for
in New York, and the School of
Jewish Music at
Hebrew College . These
institutions are unaffiliated with any particular
The curriculum for students in these programs generally include, but
are not limited to:
* Hebrew: modern, Biblical (Torah), and liturgical (Siddur)
Nusach (liturgical tradition)
* Laws and traditions pertaining to
Jewish prayer service
* History and content of the siddur
* Music theory, sight-reading sheet music
* Playing an instrument, usually a piano or guitar
* Singing technique
Cantillation —tropes for the liturgical chanting of biblical
* Choral conducting
Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, or
Old Testament )
Jewish music history
* Pastoral care and counseling
The period between the two World Wars is often referred to as the
"golden age" of hazzanut (cantorial performance). The greats include
Zavel Kwartin (1874–1953),
Moritz Henle (1850–1925), Joseph
"Yossele" Rosenblatt (1882–1933),
Gershon Sirota (1874–1943), and
Leib Glantz .
In the post–World War II period, prominent cantors were Moshe
David Werdyger ,
Frank Birnbaum ,
Richard Tucker and
Abraham Lopes Cardozo (1914–2006). Operatic tenor
Jan Peerce , whose
cantorial recordings were highly regarded, was never a cantor by
profession but he often cantored during the high holidays .
Popular contemporary cantors include
Shmuel Barzilai , Naftali
Yitzchak Meir Helfgot , Chazzan Avraham Aharon Weingarten,
Yaakov Lemmer ,
Joseph Malovany ,
Benzion Miller , Jacob
(Jack) Mendelson, Aaron Bensoussan, Alberto Mizrahi, Yaakov Yoseph
Stark, Jochen (Yaacov) Fahlenkamp, and Eli Weinberg.
* History of religious
* Academy for
Jewish Religion (California)
* Academy for
Jewish Religion (New York)
* The Reform
Jewish Cantorate during the 19th Century
Look up HAZZAN in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
* ^ Geoffrey Wigoder; Fred Skolnik; Shmuel Himelstein, eds. (2002).
Cantor and cantorial music". The New Encyclopedia of Judaism. New
York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-9388-6 .
* ^ A B "The Cantor". My
Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
* ^ To Accompany A Chazzan: Choirs and Soloists - Past and Present,
Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz, Hamodia Inyan, September 23, 2014 (vol.
xvii no. 828), p. 16-17: As an adult of 21, Reb Naftali Blaivas was
the baal tefillah in a shul for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Two
years later, he began a forty-two-year stint as the baal tefillah for
the Yamim Noraim in the shul of
Rabbi Mordechai Teitz, z"l, Chief
Rabbi of Elizabeth, New Jersey. "I was not a chazzan. My style was
chazzanishe baal tefillah. Tefillah was paramount for Rav Teitz, not
music. I remember him telling me firmly at the beginning, 'M'zogt
nisht iber ken verter' ."
* ^ See also Dalet Amot: Halachic Perspectives (
Rabbi Ari N. Enkin,
2008), p. 6-7, where the author discusses excessive operatics and
repetition of words by chazzanim and notes that
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
and most halachic authorities rule "that a chazzan should not repeat
any words of the prayers."
* ^ As can be heard in the audio file accompanying this page.
Shulkhan Arukh , Orah Hayyim, 581
* ^ A B http://jwa.org/blog/Julie-Rosewald
* ^ A B "Cantors: American
Jewish Women\'s Archive".
Jwa.org. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
* ^ Goldman, Ari L. (September 19, 1990). "A Bar to Women as
Cantors Is Lifted". The New York Times.
* ^ "
Cantor Sharon Hordes". Kenesethisrael.com. Retrieved
* ^ "Cantorial/Hazzanut/Liturgical - CD
Susan Wehle OB"M
Songs of Healing & Hope J. Levine Books & Judaica ".
Levinejudaica.com. 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
* ^ Haughney, Christine (February 15, 2009). "\'It\'s Not Even Six
Degrees of Separation. It\'s One.\'". The New York Times.
* ^ "Tikkun v\'Or, Ithaca, NY - Celebration in honor of
Lyons". Tikkunvor.org. 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
* ^ "Contributions of
Jewish Women to Music and Women to Jewish
Music". JMWC. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
* ^ "
Cantor Tannoz Bahremand Forunzanfar; Academy for Jewish
Religion, California". Ajrca.org. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
* ^ "HUC-JIR: Statistics".
Hebrew Union College
Hebrew Union College --
of Religion. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
* ^ American Conference of Cantors
* ^ Cantors Assembly
* ^ Belz School of