Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows

The Jewish Theological Seminary is meeting the demand for Conservative rabbi's by training and supporting up to forty advanced rabbinical students to lead in underserved congregations, over the next five years, through our new Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Program.

Underserved congregations are characterized by:

  • Absence of professional clergy leadership
  • Small membership (<200)
  • Limited financial resources
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Program Objectives

JTS rabbinical students selected as Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows can expect:

  • Paid professional experience in a structured program
  • Practical training and support consistent with the goals and objectives of The Rabbinical School curriculum
  • Mentoring by rabbis in the field with directly relevant expertise
  • Satisfaction from strengthening Jewish life in a community with an underserved congregation

Congregations that participate in the program can expect:

  • A skilled Rabbinic Fellow in residence for at least eight Shabbatot (Friday–midday Sunday) and two holidays during the academic year
  • Increased access to informed guidance in ritual and pastoral matters throughout the year
  • Satisfaction from directly contributing to the professional growth of a soon-to-be ordained rabbi
  • Stronger connections to the people and resources of three of the Conservative Movement's central institutions: The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)

Why We Stand Out:

The Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows program differs from existing student pulpit opportunities in three important ways:

  • Ongoing individual and group supervision for all participants that addresses the particular needs of rabbinical students serving small congregations on a part-time basis
  • Mentoring by rabbis in the field with significant small pulpit experience
  • Collaboration between JTS, the RA, and USCJ on placement, orientation, and mentoring

Each placement year (2008–2009, 2009–2010, 2010–2011, 2011–2012), the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Program will be comprised of three primary components:

  • The Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Seminar
  • Congregational Placement
  • Field Mentors

The Legacy Heritage Seminar:

Led by the Program Director, Rabbi William H. Lebeau, this two-day orientation for Rabbinic Fellows, congregational lay leaders, and mentors is held on the JTS campus during the week prior to the start of fall semester classes.

The focus of the seminar will be on working effectively as a part-time rabbi in an underserved congregation. Specific topics will be determined by the needs of the Rabbinic Fellows.

View a slideshow of the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Seminar:

Congregational Placement:

Fellows will provide religious leadership to underserved congregations that are currently or potentially affiliated with the Conservative Movement.

The congregational placement will incorporate a written agreement between the Rabbinic Fellow, the congregation, and The Jewish Theological Seminary, specifying dates of service and responsibilities, as well as how, when, and by whom the Rabbinic Fellow will be compensated.

Field Mentor:

Each Rabbinic Fellow will have a Field Mentor in the congregational placement region. The role of the mentor differs from that of the Program Director in that mentors are immersed in the Jewish life of the area(s) where Rabbinic Fellows serve and have no administrative or selection responsibilities. Field Mentors make on-site visits to each of the congregations during the year.

Field Mentors will be Conservative rabbis with significant, successful, small congregation experience who are knowledgeable about Jewish life in the locality or region where the Rabbinic Fellow is serving.

Program Staffing

Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School, will have overall responsibility for the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Program.

He will monitor the program's progress, supervise the Program Director, and be responsible for ensuring that all conditions of the grant agreement are met in a timely and professional manner in keeping with the administrative policies and practices of JTS.

Rabbi William H. Lebeau, former vice chancellor for Rabbinic Development and immediate past dean of The Rabbinical School, will serve as Program Director for the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows Program.

Rabbi Lebeau is the author of On Becoming a Conservative Rabbi. He imbues students with his love for the rabbinate through his teaching and guidance.

A former US Navy Chaplain, Rabbi Lebeau served for many years as a congregational rabbi at the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station, New York, as the congregation grew from sixty to 750 members.

Prior to his return to JTS in 1987, he was for ten years the rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois.