Known by the name of Chazzan in Jewish community, a Cantor is someone who is well trained in the musical choirs and elements of the religion, and is basically an ‘overseer’. A Cantor’s main duty is to lead the congregation in prayer in association with the Rabbi.
Modern day Cantors, especially the conservative and reform Jewish are generally trained in Cantorial schools and become an ordained clergy, with an in-depth knowledge about prayer services. Sometimes they act as both Rabbi and Cantor.
Apart from leading the prayer services, a Cantor typically has a number of responsibilities that may vary from one synagogue to the other. This is generally applicable to Conservative and Reform Jewish Worlds. Their duties include leading life-cycle events, working with the choir, teaching members how to participate in prayer services and teaching bat/bar mitzvah boys and girls to read from the holy book of Torah.
One of the most important duties of a professional Cantor is to educate young people to lead a Shabbat service or a part of it to chant the Haftarah or Torah reading ceremony. They can also participate in pastoral duties that were once confined only to Rabbis. Such activities include conducting funerals and weddings, teaching adult education classes and visiting congregants without disregarding the sick and dying.
An ideal Cantor is expected to work closely in association with Rabbi to instruct and motivate the congregation.