Placement for Congregations

Finding Your New Cantor

Selection of a Cantor by a congregation is a critical and sensitive task with far-reaching implications for the character, spirit, effectiveness, and success of a congregation, as well as for the career of the selected Cantor. It should involve participation of all constituencies of the congregational community and be conducted according to careful procedures and with mutual respect and courtesy for the Cantor and congregation.

The Cantorial Placement Process, overseen by the Joint Cantorial Placement Commission – a joint commission of the Union for Reform Judaism, the American Conference of Cantors, and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The ACC is the professional organization of cantors associated with the Reform Movement and with the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Our members serve communities throughout North America and beyond.

An ACC cantor is:

  • A member of the Jewish clergy who has chosen the cantorate as a life's work and has studied towards that goal for at least four years of post-graduate study, developing an ability to support and build congregational communities founded on Torah, Avodah and G'milut Chassadim
  • A Jewish professional ordained or certified by the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, or other accredited seminary approved by the ACC -- committed to the values, traditions, and ethics of Reform Judaism

The relationship between an ordained or certified Cantor and a congregation has a spiritual dimension that transcends the usual employee-employer association. It is grounded in the history of our people as well as in the shared, sacred experiences and events in the lives of our congregants.

The relationship between an ordained or certified Cantor and an ordained Rabbi is one which is forged in a shared vision for congregational communities. Both deploy their gifts in an effort to transmit our Jewish heritage, enrich worship and create opportunities for the performance of mitzvot.

The Career Services Department of the American Conference of Cantors is devoted to helping create meaningful partnerships between congregations and Cantors. Our goal is that these covenantal relationships grow and prosper over the years.

Below is an excerpt from a 1996 URJ Resolution:


"No longer is the cantor simply the sweet singer of Israel. The College-Institute prepares today’s cantors to be members of the clergy who serve as leaders of worship, educators, administrators, counselors, creative programmers, and role models to our congregants to all ages – especially to our children. The unique constellation of rabbis, professional educators and administrators, and today’s cantors working together, provides our synagogues with an indispensable, dynamic team to guide and nurture the spiritual life of our congregants in an unprecedented manner.

Unfortunately, many URJ affiliated congregations have unilaterally bestowed the title of cantor on soloists who lack proper credentials. It is interesting to note that the rabbinate faced this very same problem nearly a century ago when it was a fairly common practice for smaller congregations to arbitrarily designate a Judaically knowledgeable lay person as its "rabbi". Just as we have come to expect only our seminary to confer the title of rabbi on those few individuals who have arduously prepared to assume the mantle of Jewish leadership, so too should we expect no less or accept no other course for the creation of cantors."

Thank you for your interest in the members of the American Conference of Cantors.  We hope that your experience in our Placement process will be fruitful and rewarding.

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