Cantorial Program Advance Preparation

The ALEPH Cantorial Program is designed to train renewal-minded Jews who are passionate about prayer and Torah to be inspiring baaley t’fillah (masters of Jewish prayer) and davvenen’ leaders. Our program expects serious musicianship, dedicated Jewish scholarship, a love for the legacy of tradition coupled with a progressive, imaginative spirit. We expect hazzanim to be self-aware and sensitive Jewish spiritual teachers, just as we expect of our rabbis and rabbinic pastors, while recognizing that the role of hazzan has its special focus.

As you progress in the Cantorial Program you will achieve a range of competencies in hazzanut, nusach, trop for all megillot, music, voice, davvenen skills, clergy pastoral skills, and renewal-style Jewish leadership and teaching skills, plus a broad background in Jewish studies and Jewish spiritual practice.

There are several basic skills in which we expect students to have developed competencies by the end of the first year of the Cantorial Program. ALEPH offers courses in each of these areas that are specifically designed for prospective and first-year students.

Naturally, some applicants  already have prior learning and skill competence in these areas. You will have the opportunity to document and demonstrate your prior learning as part of the application process.



The first-year requirement is the equivalent of a year of conservatory-level basic music theory, ear training and music reading skills. As there are several ways to achieve this competence (private study, local or online courses, etc.) your Director of Studies will work with you to help you find the best way to achieve the appropriate level.

Hebrew Language Skills 

By the end of your first year in the program, you will be expected to have a working knowledge of classical Hebrew syntax and grammar, as well as a basic Chumash vocabulary. 

Siddur Skills 

You should be able to open a traditional Siddur to a section of basic prayer text and read and translate reasonably and comfortably, with a sense of the spiritual underpinnings of the words. 

First Courses

We have several courses that are open to you as an applicant (Introduction to the Siddur, etc). Please consult with the admissions office for more information. Any course you take successfully in ALEPH prior to your actual acceptance will be included in your student record. 

General Preparation

There are a number of areas in which you can immerse yourself in advance, e.g. Jewish Renewal, Zalman’s thought, Jewish history, understanding the liturgy, etc. Please refer to the Resources section of this website for suggested reading. 

Recommended personal practice: Be regularly involved in communal worship, somewhere, somehow. If you can, attend a weekday minyan to absorb the sounds and rhythms of daily prayer.  Sample diverse synagogues to gain a sense of the range of styles of communal prayer. Learn what works well, and develop your sense for what you think is needed. 

We welcome your interest in the ALEPH Cantorial Program. We look forward to future conversations and working with you on your application.

 If you wish to discuss learning the amazing, ancient spiritual art of hazzanut, please contact the program director, Hazzan Jack Kessler at

 If you are interested in enrolling in any of the available ALEPH courses that are open to prospective students, or wish more information about the application process, please contact Hazzan Diana Brewer at