Reflections on Cantor William Sharlin

by Cantor Jonathan L. Friedmann, Ph.D.

Cantor William Sharlin’s biography is in some ways the story of the American cantorate. He was a member of the first graduating class of the first cantorial school in America: the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College (HUC), and a founding member of the American Conference of Cantors. He is recognized as the first professional Jewish camp song leader, and the first to play a guitar in the synagogue. He was one of only a handful of cantors with an advanced degree in composition (Manhattan School of Music). He developed the Department of Sacred Music at HUC in Los Angeles, and taught there for fifty years. He trained women to be cantors before they were allowed into the seminary. His nearly forty years at Leo Beack Temple were among the most musically inventive in the history of the cantorate.