First Invested Woman Cantor to Retire as Placement Director for Reform Cantorate

The American Conference of Cantors (ACC) <>, a non-profit organization dedicated to the professional growth and development of cantors in the Reform Movement, announces the retirement of Cantor Barbara J. Ostfeld, Director of Placement. Cantor Ostfeld was the first woman invested as cantor by the now Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in June 1975. Cantor Ostfeld will officially retire as her 37th year in the cantorate is celebrated at the ACC-GTM Convention in Portland, Oregon this June.

Cantor Ostfeld has served the ACC as the Director of Placement since September 2002, which follows many years of volunteer service to the organization including chairing the Joint Cantorial Placement Commission (JCPC) in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), as well as serving on the Executive Board of the ACC in several capacities.

“For the past 10 years, Cantor Ostfeld has been instrumental in the journey of the professional Cantorate, in its earliest years from sacred singer who might find employment by responding to positions posted in the newspaper in the 1930s to the far more formalized process and relationship of a cantor and congregation that we experience today,” said Cantor Susan Caro, ACC president. “Through her compassionate listening and her articulate presence, she has brought a new level of respect and skill to the sensitive matters of cantorial employment in the North American Reform Jewish world.”

Throughout her career, Cantor Ostfeld has served as a mentor for young women and men seeking to enter the cantorate. She spends time at the DFSSM each year during the audition process, during subsequent visits with the students throughout their education and as they approach ordination.

Prior to joining the professional staff of the ACC, Cantor Ostfeld served congregations in Great Neck, Rochester, and Williamsville, New York. She served as a pulpit cantor and educator where she led worship, developed b’nai mitzvah programming, officiated at life cycle events, and delivered sermons and sermons-in-song.

She has touched many lives, both as a pulpit cantor and as the Director of Placement. Her talents, compassion, wit and wisdom will be missed, and we wish her great blessing in the next leg of her life’s journey.

About the American Conference of Cantors
Founded in 1953, the American Conference of Cantors is the pre-eminent professional organization of Cantors in North America, currently representing over 450 cantors in North America and around the world. As clergy committed to Judaism and Jewish Music, the membership of the ACC serves the diverse needs of the Jewish people. As an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the ACC supports its members in their sacred calling as emissaries for Judaism and for Jewish music, providing a unique and dynamic vision of programs and initiatives that respond to the needs of the greater Reform community. For more information, please visit the ACC’s website at