The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor

The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor

Musical Authority, Cultural Investment
Judah M. Cohen
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Format: Paperback 14 musical exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04549-2
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The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor provides an unprecedented look into the meaning of attaining musical authority among American Reform Jews at the turn of the twenty-first century. How do aspiring cantors adapt traditional musical forms to the practices of contemporary American congregations? What is the cantor's role in American Jewish religious life today? Judah M. Cohen follows cantorial students at the School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College, over the course of their training, as they prepare to become modern Jewish musical leaders. Opening a window on the practical, social, and cultural aspects of aspiring to musical authority, this book provides unusual insights into issues of musical tradition, identity, gender, community, and high and low musical culture.

Author Bio

Judah M. Cohen is the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture and Associate Professor of Musicology at Indiana University Bloomington. He is author of Through the Sands of Time: A History of the Jewish Community of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Reviews

“An unprecedented look into the meaning of attaining musical authority among American Reform Jews at the turn of the 21st century, this book follows students over the course of their training, as they prepare to become modern Jewish musical leaders, providing unusual insights into issues of musical tradition, identity, gender, community, and high and low musical culture.”

“A unique study focusing on the training and transformation of Reform cantorial students into invested cantors. . . . Informative and interesting.”
 — Mark Kligman, Hebrew Union College

“An important, richly detailed work, the first comprehensive study of the training and professional enculturation of this central liturgical/musical leader. . . . As Cohen examines how individuals and institutions negotiate the balance between tradition and modernity, he makes a significant contribution to our understanding of contemporary religious life, professional development, and the construction and negotiation of cultural/religious identity.”
 — Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit, Tufts University

“Cohen's work offers a nuanced view of cantorial students and faculty as individuals, and a sympathetic commentary on the School as an institution in the context of Reform Judaism. It is also a valuable account of structure and agency in the formation of musical authority, and an examination of the mediating roles of an insider scholarly institution.May 5, 2010”
 — Jonathan Dueck, Duke University

“[This book] will be of interest not only to cantors and their teachers but also to rabbis, congregations and everyone concerned about the future of the Jewish community.4/7/10”
 — Morton Teicher, Florida Jewish Journal

“[The author] has produced a vibrant, descriptive analysis of cantorial education from the time of admission to...to graduation.... 5/19/10”
 — NATIONAL JEWISH POST & OPINION

“Cohen successfully navigates a complex waterway, melding history, ethnography and Jewish professional studies with a musicological account of cantorial education in the 21st century. Cohen's perspective is at once narrow and layered. . . . In realizing his goal, Cohen has provided us with a rich and unique work that will no doubt hold the interest of Jewish historians, musicians, and of course cantors, themselves.March 20, 2010”
 — Musica Judaica Online Reviews

“Opening a window on the practical, social, and cultural aspects of aspiring to musical authority, this book provides unusual insights into issues of musical tradition, identity, gender, community, and high and low musical culture. May 6, 2010”
 — menorahreview.org

“Cohen brought to the task he set for himself—understanding the education of cantors—special knowledge about music and about being a participant-observer. The result is a sterling presentation that will be of interest not only to cantors and their teachers but also to rabbis, congregations and everyone concerned about the future of the Jewish community.April 16, 2010”
 — Buffalo Jewish Review

“Cohen's work offers a nuanced view of cantorial students and faculty as individuals, and a sympathetic commentary on the School [Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music] as an institution in the context of Reform Judaism. It is also a valuable account of structure and agency in the formation of musical authority, and an examination of the mediating roles of an insider scholarly institution.May 5, 2010”
 — Jonathan Dueck, Duke University

“[Cohen] is not merely tapping the knowledge base of musical authorities as a means to gather data; his goal is to understand the creation of musical authority itself, specifically that of the Reform cantor in the 21st Century. ...Cohen has provided us with a rich and unique work that will no doubt hold the interest of Jewish historians, musicians, and of course cantors, themselves.3/20/2010”
 — Scott M. Sokol, Hebrew College, Newton Centre, Massachusetts

“[The author's] research impressively combines ethnographic and historical approaches to the question of how sound enriches modern Jewish life and culture.August 3, 2009”
 — MyJewishLearning.com

“Opening a window on the practical, social, and cultural aspects of aspiring to musical authority, this book provides unusual insights into issues of musical tradition, identity, gender, community, and high and low musical culture. Vol. 28, No. 4, Summer 2010”
 — Shofar

“[T]his volume is a useful addition to the scholarly bookshelf. . . . The accessible and readable style of Cohen's account coupled with relevant CD illustrations will make this a useful case study for a course on music in contemporary religious practice, while his theoretical observations will provide a springboard for much wider discussion of musical texts and processes. ”
 — Music and Letters

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Attributions
Note on Transliteration

Introduction: A Moment of Transformation
1. To Fashion a Cantor
2. Seeking the Tradition
3. Constructing a Tradition
4. Through the Prism of the Practicum
5. A Prism of Cantorial Sound
6. A Prism of Cantorial Identity
Conclusion: Cantors in Israel and the Structure of Musical Authority
Appendix A: Ashkenazic and Sephardic Pronunciation Table
Appendix B: Accessing Audiovisual Materials

Notes
Bibliography
Index