Curious About Becoming an ACC Cantor?
The ACC has always had a special relationship with the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform Movement’s home address for cantorial education and Jewish musical innovation. The community of HUC-JIR is uniquely well-suited for the development of collaborative relationships between cantors, rabbis, educators and other Jewish leaders, and its campus in New York welcomes the influence of every strand of Jewish music, prayer and learning. Upon ordination, DFSSM students automatically become full-fledged members of the ACC.
For interested parties who are not ordained cantors from HUC-JIR, DFSSM, the policy below contains the information you will need to apply to test into membership with the ACC as an ordained cantor and graduate of one of our recognized seminaries. The exam is offered at least once a year, usually in January or February, in both New York and Los Angeles. Additional dates and locations may be added if there are more applicants than can be accomodated during our winter exams. Each location can only accomodate five or six testing candidates. Seats for the exam are on a first come, first served basis. You are not considered registered until all of your documentation is received by the office.
Please note that as of July 2016, our test and study guide are under review. The test in early 2017 will be based on the current study guide and will be changing for 2018.
Once registered, candidates will receive a study guide for the exam which consists of an oral presentation of five pieces of suggested varied repertoire, and a written element of programming examples of seven different standard types of services, short response definitions of Reform terms/names/sources, and three essay questions about the Reform Movement, its history, ideology, and current state of affairs. The study guide is for use by the candidate only.
Policy for Membership Testing for the American Conference of Cantors
MEMBERSHIP EXAM ELIGIBILITY [Policy updated November 2015]
Any person who is a graduate of a recognized institution of higher learning and has been awarded a Master's Degree (Jewish Music/Jewish Education or related) in or after the year 2013 or a Bachelor's degree if graduation was prior to 2013 from that institution as well as conferred the title "Cantor" or an equivalent (Cantor/Educator, etc.) from one of the following institutions is eligible for testing to become an Associate Member of the American Conference of Cantors
- Abraham Geiger College
- Academy for Jewish Religion, California
- Academy for Jewish Religion, New York
- The Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano
- Hebrew College, Boston
- RRC & Gratz College - Masters in Jewish Music
- Jewish Theological Seminary, Miller School
The Membership Test will include a report of psychological screening prepared under the auspices of the ACC and paid for by the applicant.
Upon successful completion of the membership test and at the conclusion of the ACC Hadracha mentorship program (minimum of one year), participants are eligible to become Regular members in the ACC by a simple majority vote of the Executive Board.
A candidate for regular testing who is unable to complete the ACC Hadracha mentorship program may by vote of the Executive Board be terminated from the regular membership entrance process and consequently any membership standing in the ACC. If the board votes to deny regular membership of the ACC, to any candidate who has had their name submitted for a vote, then that candidate loses any membership standing in the ACC.
The exam for ACC Membership will be held once a year in New York City, NY and once a year in Los Angeles, CA. Additional testing dates and locations may be added at the discretion of the Vice President of Member Relations & External Partnerships in conjunction with the Membership chairs and the ACC Chief Operating Officer. The exam includes written and oral portions. (November 2015)
Prior to testing, Cantorial applicants must submit the following documents and fees to the ACC office:
- ACC Membership Application
- $500 administration fee, which is applied toward fulfillment of ACC dues if the applicant is accepted (June 2013).
- $150 testing fee for each time (up to three) the candidate sits for an exam.
- A cover letter explaining why you are applying for membership in the ACC.
- A copy of an updated resume.
- Photocopies (or photograph if emailed) of his/her university diplomas attesting to the applicant having received a Bachelor's degree and a Master's Degree (Jewish Music/Jewish Education or related).
- A photocopy of his/her Ordination/Investiture certificate.
- Three letters of recommendation, at least one of which must come from a member in good standing of the ACC, and at least one of which must come from the congregation/organization the applicant currently serves. If the applicant does not currently serve a congregation/organization, then the letter must come from a congregation/organization the candidate has previously served.
- A report of psychological screening from a board-certified psychologist stating the candidate is fit for duty as a clergy-person.
Applications are not considered complete and study materials will not be sent until all requirements (other than the psychological screening) are received. Applicants may sit for a portion of the exam three times. No request to retest will be accepted after a third failure of the exam.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of the American Conference of Cantors. Please be in contact with our office if you have additional questions regarding the process.