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Cantor /Chassan

The cantor, in Hebrew called the chasan, leads the service in the synagogue and reads or sings specific prayers.
This was originally done by members of the congregation themselves.
But when the liturgies became more elaborate and special knowledge became necessary, the role of reader developed into a profession in its own right.
Later on, spoken prayer was increasingly replaced by song, and the reader became an intoner or cantor.
The reader was a lowranking employee of the Jewish Community.
Five cantors lived in the Judengasse at the end of the 17th century.
In some cases they also held the post of shames.

Since the cantor represented the community in prayer, he was required to lead a particularly blameless life.
As early as 1628, a list of duties was prescribed for cantors which imposed strict limitations on them.
It was required of them "that they should avoid all female society, all games (excepting chess and draughts), and frequent walking about the Judengasse".


© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources