American Judaism

Cantors Changing Tune To Stay Relevant

In Conservative and Reform movements, more song-leading and a blurring line between chazzan and rabbi.

11/01/2012
Staff Writer

Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Md., is a classic suburban Conservative synagogue, boasting a membership of 1,100 households and such varied programming as a Yiddish film festival, tallit-making workshops and an adult education institute. A sprawling building, newly enlarged, contains all this bustling activity.

Large congregations like Beth El offer much, yet they sometimes suffer from a reputation for lackluster services that contrasts with their crowded preschools and the abundant activities on offer.

Cantor Ellen Arad leads a now-mandatory guitar class in the JTS cantorial program.
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