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Berlin Jewish cantorial school to open

A Reform Jewish cantorial school will open in Berlin.

The Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam, a Reform Jewish seminary, will open the Jewish Institute of Cantorial Arts next year. The institute will train cantors to lead services and provide religious education in congregations throughout Europe. Last September, the Reform college became the first institute to grant rabbinical certification in postwar Germany.

The college’s funder, the Leo Baeck Foundation in Potsdam, is collaborating with the Breslauer-Soref Foundation of California and the Soref-Breslauer Texas Foundation to create the program. Geiger College said the German government and the Central Council of Jews in Germany have indicated their interest in supporting the project once it opens in 2008.

Germany’s Jewish population has more than quadrupled since 1990 due to the influx of some 120,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union. With that, the need for Jewish spiritual leaders has grown. Germany has fewer than 30 rabbis for its approximately 80 synagogues; there are even fewer cantors.

The new institute says it will cooperate closely with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Reform Jewry’s school in Jerusalem.

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