A few weeks ago, Abraham Geiger College in Berlin opened the Jewish Institute of Cantorial Arts, Europe’s first academic program to train Reform cantors since World War II.

Germany was the birthplace of Reform Judaism, and it has a rich cantorial history, though it looked for a while like that history had ended with the Holocaust. In the decades after the war, only a small number of Jews lived in Germany. That began to change with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since then, tens of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union have immigrated to Germany. Now there are some 120 synagogues throughout the country, but of those about 80 have no rabbi or cantor at their helm.

The new school in Berlin is starting small, with just three students in its inaugural class. To mark the occasion, the school flew over nine Reform cantors from North America to perform.

concert by Jewish Institute of Cantorial Arts students

Photos: Evgeny Plyukhin.