The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment

Overview

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 21st 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? 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 ...

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Overview

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 21st 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? 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.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Musica Judaica Online Reviews

"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." —Musica Judaica Online Reviews, March 20, 2010

Buffalo Jewish Review

"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." —Buffalo Jewish Review, April 16, 2010

Journal of Folklore Research
"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." —Jonathan Dueck, Duke University, Journal of Folklore Research, May 5, 2010

— Jonathan Dueck, Duke University

Florida Jewish Journal
"[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." —Morton Teicher, Florida Jewish Journal, 4/7/10

— Morton Teicher

National Jewish Post & Opinion
"[The author] has produced a vibrant, descriptive analysis of cantorial education from the time of admission to...to graduation...." —NATIONAL JEWISH POST & OPINION, 5/19/10
www.menorahreview.org
"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." —menorahreview.org, May 6, 2010
Shofar

"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." —Shofar, Vol. 28, No. 4, Summer 2010

Music & Letters
"[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
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit

"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

From the Publisher

"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." —Buffalo Jewish Review, April 16, 2010

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

"[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

"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." —Musica Judaica Online Reviews, March 20, 2010

"[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." —Morton Teicher, Florida Jewish Journal, 4/7/10

Journal of Folklore Research - Jonathan Dueck

"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." —Jonathan Dueck, Duke University, Journal of Folklore Research, May 5, 2010

Florida Jewish Journal - Morton Teicher

"[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." —Morton Teicher, Florida Jewish Journal, 4/7/10

Musica Judaica Online Reviews - Scott M. Sokol

"[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." —Scott M. Sokol, Hebrew College, Newton Centre, Massachusetts, Musica Judaica Online Reviews, 3/20/2010

NATIONAL JEWISH POST & OPINION

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

menorahreview.org

"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." —menorahreview.org, May 6, 2010

Music and Letters

"[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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Product Details

Meet the Author

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

Indiana University Press

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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: URJ Transliteration Guidelines and Master Word List
Bibliography
Index
List of Selections on Compact Disc

Indiana University Press

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