Shaliach tzibbur

Shaliach tzibbur course 2020-2022

Participants and teachers of the Shaliach Tzibur course, November 2022. Two participants were
absent due to illness and are therefore not in the photo.

In the autumn of 2020, the Levisson Institute started a new shaliach tzibbur course. The Institute offered this course for the second time. It consisted of nine weekends and ended in November 2022 with 10 participants completing the course. Due to corona, the first four weekends were held online, the fifth hybrid and completely physical from the sixth weekend.

The students learned how to sing the Shabbat services, the High Holidays, the Shalosh Regalim, Benshing and the Havdalah, as well as the background of the liturgy and liberal Judaism. The attitude and presentation as shaliach tzibbur were also discussed.

Teachers were chazanim Josée Wolff and Avery Tracht and rabbis Marianne van Praag and Menno ten Brink. Chazan Gilad Nezer and liturgy teacher Annette Boeckler also gave lessons.


Chazan Josée Wolff and rabbi Menno ten Brink
Chazan Josée Wolff teaches the class



Shaliach tzibbur course 2008-2009

The first group of 15 students completed their shaliach tzibbur course in May 2009. See here for all photos and a video.

The course took place during eight weekends during two years (four weekens a year). Every weekend consisted of lectures and workshops. Services are held during the traditional prayer times. These services were evaluated as part of the teaching content.

Almost all lectures and workshops were conducted in the English language by the main lecturer, prof. Eliyahu Schleifer, the recently retired head of the cantorial training of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. The other teachers were dr. Annette Boeckler, librarian and lecturer Tanach and Jewish Liturgy at the Leo Baeck College in Londen, and chazan of the Amsterdam congregation Gilad Nezer.

Since the end of the training in 2009 the Institute provides a monitoring program and an in-service-training for these shlichay tzibbur and others who also perform as shlichay tzibbur.


Admission Criteria

The admissions criteria for the training for shaliach tzibbur are:

  • A completed high school career or another form of qualifications or such previous experience that it is apparent that the student can complete the training satisfactorily.
  • A clear engagement with Liberal Judaism (Liberaal, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist).
  • Clear integration into the Dutch-Jewish community.
  • Good technical reading and a basic knowledge of Hebrew.
  • A pleasant singing voice.
  • A statement from the local authorities that the student has no record of criminal behaviour can be asked.

The position of a cantor in and of the community carries the implication that the personal life and lifestyle of a student is a matter of significance. This is why the student’s lifestyle and bahaviour are important elements as part of the admission procedure, albeit with full guarantees against any form of discrimination by gender, sexual orientation, race, colour or political beliefs.


Admission procedure

I. The candidate

  1. writes a letter of application in which he/she states that he/she meets the criteria for admissions. This should be in the form of a Curriculum Vitae
  2. submits a written motivation gives why he/she wants to be a shaliach tzibbur in a congregation
  3. gives an overview of trainings and courses that he/she has followed and completed in the past, with emphasis on such that are relevant to the training. He/she should enclose copies of diplomas and certificates obtained
  4. encloses a short description of earlier practical experience in leading services and life cycle events
  5. encloses a list of read/studied relevant literature

The letter should be sent to the Dean via

II. A minimum of one conversation follows with members of the admission committee over the reasons for wanting to follow the course of study and what the expectations and goals of the candidate are.

The members of the committee form a judgement about the suitability of the candidate, based both on the above criteria and the personality of the candidate. The candidate also should perform an audition. A recommenation is then formulated and sent to the Academic Committee, which can accept the report or decide to conduct a more thorough investigation on areas they wish to explore.


Study programme

1. Structure of the (synagogue) services

2. Siddur (yahadut)
a. development of the liturgy
b. content and meaning of the texts
c. the world of concepts behind the prayers and texts
d. the structure of the texts
e. associations in the language and images to other texts
f.  theological problems in the texts.

3. Capabilities of the shaliach tzibbur (shatz)
a. singing techniques
b. the singing itself
c. solfège – singing straight from the sheet music (minimum: ability to read music)
d. music (knowing the repertoire, tradition, balance in keeping the services recognizable and and introducing and using new melodies.

4. Hebrew
a. Hebrew reading with some basic understanding
b. basic Hebrew grammar.

5. Attitude
a. knowing what you sing and to express this in the music
b. the role of the shatz (knowing what it means to be the representative of the congregation in prayer)
c. kavanah, spirituality.