Our curriculum requires a substantial degree of prior education. All applicants must complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited college prior to enrollment and must demonstrate commitment to Torah study and observance of the mitzvot. They must have completed the equivalent of two years of college Hebrew and engaged in some study of primary Jewish texts prior to admission. The admissions process probes applicants for a strong foundation of Jewish knowledge and identity. Students generally require two to three years to complete the initial stage of our curriculum, whereas others with exceptionally strong backgrounds may merit advanced placement. Each case is reviewed by the deans and faculty committee.
Orientation and Elul Programming
The JTS academic calendar is aligned with the academic calendar of Columbia University, which means that fall classes typically begin just after Labor Day. The previous week all new students are required to participate in a program of orientation which includes logistical information, a review of safety rules as well as standards of ethical and religious conduct (see the appendix for our "Norms of Religious Identity and Practice"). In addition, this orientation week includes Elul-themed study sessions that allow our students to begin the year with introspection and community building.
The Rabbinical School curriculum is divided into two broad stages, moving from more general to more specialized study. The first stage, בית מדרש (Beit Midrash—Study House), is highly structured, thematic and integrated. Its overarching goal is to provide Rabbinical School students with the strongest possible foundation in the fundamentals of Hebrew language and the core of biblical rabbinic literature. Entering students are assessed for their skills in Hebrew, Bible, and Talmud study, and placed into either Level 1 or Level 2 in each area. After completing Level 2, which might be at the end of one or two years of study, students proceed to our year-in-Israel program. In Israel, our students study at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem and engage in experiential programming, travel, and volunteer work to broaden their exposure to the land, culture, and people of Israel.
The Rabbinical School curriculum's second stage, עיון (Iyun—Concentration), includes a robust suite of professional-skills courses and allows each student to design a unique program of academic inquiry leading to depth of knowledge. As they move into the Iyun program, students apply for admission to one of JTS's many master's programs (in Jewish Studies, Jewish Education, Jewish Pastoral Care, and Jewish Sacred Music; additional joint MA programs with Hunter College in social work and Columbia University in public administration are also possible). These MA programs allow our students to achieve credentialed expertise in a specific area and to design their own rabbinic identity. Students also complete our extensive program of field education. These features are described in Section III, below.
In addition to the academic programs of Beit Midrash and Iyun, The Rabbinical School provides significant experiential programs to enrich its students' rabbinic development and to nurture a supportive community at JTS:
Tefillah. Daily communal prayer is an essential feature of an observant Jewish life. At JTS, daily minyan is conducted throughout the semester in the Women's League Seminary Synagogue (WLSS) on every school day for Shaharit and Minhah. During the winter, a Ma'ariv service is also held at WLSS; throughout the year there is a late Ma'ariv in the Goldsmith Dormitory Moadon. Since 2011, students have been assigned to מעמדות, "Ma'amadot" or prayer fellowships, and each is responsible for conducting services for one week during the school year. There are often services for Shabbat and festivals at JTS. Students are also welcome to create and participate in minyanim on- and off-campus that use a variety of alternative formats. However, the official mode of prayer for our school is the traditional egalitarian service based in WLSS. All students are expected to be regular participants in minyan, which is a place to create sacred community in our service of God. Minyan is also a place to learn and hone synagogue skills such as leading tefillah, chanting Torah, and presenting brief drashot to one's community of peers and teachers.
Community Time. Gathering as a community to share a meal and engage in thoughtful conversation is another essential feature of The Rabbinical School. Our current format is to meet over lunch every Wednesday. We alternate between all-school gatherings devoted to a communal activity or presentation, small-group gatherings of students with a mentor who supervises their spiritual and personal formation, and additional sessions available for student-initiated interest groups.
Minimesters. Each January, during the week prior to the spring term, our school presents an intensive four-day minimester to explore a significant aspect of religious leadership that is not addressed sufficiently in the core curriculum. A different topic is chosen each year. In 2013, the minimester is entitled, "The Organized Jewish Community," and runs from January 14 to 17. Each rabbinical student is required to participate in three minimesters over the course of his or her education at JTS.
Fellowships. The Rabbinical School is blessed with support from numerous donors and charitable foundations, some of which provide need-based financial aid scholarships, while others support students in specific learning activities through fellowships. The following is a partial list of active fellowships designed specifically for JTS rabbinical students:
Crown Fellowship. This fellowship is granted each year to two incoming students of outstanding academic merit. It provides tuition and a partial stipend for the first two years of study. All admitted students are automatically considered for this fellowship.
Bernstein Israel Study Fellowship. This fellowship provides financial support for all students spending their academic year of study in Israel. The amount varies by size of cohort, but generally suffices to cover travel expenses.
Gladstein Fellowship. First year students are invited to apply for this fellowship, which trains our students in entrepreneurial rabbinic leadership of small congregations. In the first three years of study, Gladstein Fellows receive a partial stipend for living expenses and receive training in annual conferences, site visits to our training congregations, and special mentoring from other fellows and faculty. In the final two years, fellows receive a full tuition and equal living stipend, and are placed in a "teaching congregation," where they assist a senior colleague, and in an emerging congregation, where they visit monthly and serve as the rabbi for two years prior to ordination. Gladstein fellows commit to starting their rabbinic career working in a smaller congregation for at least three years following ordination.
Kaplan Fellowship for Pastoral Care. This fellowship was established by Rita and Stanley Kaplan in memory of their son Paul (z"l), in order to support JTS students in their study of pastoral care. This fund covers the cost of tuition and a living stipend for each student as s/he completes a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, usually during the summer of one of the middle years of the program.
Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellowship. This program matches students with small congregations lacking a rabbinic leader. Students receive a full living stipend and make 10 visits for weekends and holidays over the course of an academic year. They also receive mentorship from the fellowship director, Rabbi William Lebeau, to help them prepare for their rabbinic tasks in the congregations, and to assess and refine their work as it progresses.
Inez and David Myers Fellowship. This fellowship was established in 2012 to train students in public rabbinic leadership. Fourth-year students take a leadership seminar taught by a prominent pulpit rabbi with guest lectures by renowned scholars and practitioners of public leadership. Students are invited to submit grant proposals for projects of their own design to extend the impact of their professional training and prepare them for future roles as innovative leaders.
Resnick Internship Program. Each rabbinical student is required to complete a year-long field internship with a rabbinic mentor, and to participate in a two-semester seminar on campus. These internships take place in a variety of rabbinic settings, such as congregations, schools, camps and other nonprofit organizations. The Resnick fund provides students with partial stipends for their living expenses, and the organizations generally match this grant.
Shapiro Fellowship for Youth Work. One field experience required of each JTS rabbinical student is to work in one of our Movement's informal educational settings for youth, whether at Camp Ramah or with United Synagogue Youth. The Shapiro Fellowship augments the salaries paid by these programs to our students and also provides them with a periodic seminar during the academic year.
External Fellowships: JTS rabbinical students are encouraged to apply for (and often receive) external programs to support their studies at JTS, such as the Wexner Foundation's Graduate Fellowship, UJA Federation of New York's graduate scholarships, and many other additional programs.
Academic Partnerships. The formidable academic resources of JTS are extended considerably through several academic partnerships with sister institutions. In Jerusalem, our students study at the Schechter Rabbinic Seminary, an Israeli institution that is affiliated with the Masorti Movement, and which provides our students with a Hebrew-language environment and outstanding academic resources. In New York, The Rabbinical School participates in a consortium with Union Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Students may cross-register for classes in these schools (with permission from their academic advisor) for no additional tuition. JTS maintains an exchange-semester program with the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, which allows students in each school to spend a semester in the other. We also have a partnership with Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, which invites JTS students to take classes there with a full stipend for tuition, travel, and living expenses.
The Rabbinical School requires its students to earn a master's degree, which may be completed at no additional charge at The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, The Graduate School, and the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music. Our students have full access to the academic consortia that these schools maintain with other academic institutions in New York and beyond. In addition, The Rabbinical School is completing an agreement with Hunter College's Silberman School of Social Work for a joint program that will allow rabbinical students to earn a master's degree in social work with one additional year of study.
Volunteerism. יפה תלמוד תורה עם דרך ארץ . This rabbinic expression (Avot 2:2) proclaims that Torah study is most effective when combined with outside work. Derekh eretz is an idiom that alludes to labor, to ethical conduct, and even to sexual intimacy. The common thread is that derekh eretz refers to activity outside of the formal religious structures of worship and study. The Jewish values of our school cannot be fully expressed without involvement in the broader society. We encourage all of our students to volunteer some of their time to apply their knowledge and passion for Torah to the needs of the broader community through gemilut hasadim, acts of love. This may involve poverty relief actions, such as volunteering in soup kitchens and homeless shelters; offering hospitality to visitors; working with youth; or advocating for the needs of various disadvantaged populations within society. Our school has not established a formal minimum requirement for volunteerism, but all students are expected to seek out appropriate settings for such work.
Senior Sermons and Shiurim. All seniors are required to present a learned speech (דרשה, drashah) or class (שעור, shiur). Students are given rubrics by which these capstone presentations are evaluated. Senior sermons are offered on weekday afternoons in the presence of the JTS community. Seniors work with mentors and receive written comments from a panel of responders whom they have selected.
Graduate Placement. At the conclusion of their course of studies, JTS rabbinical students receive their MA degree at Commencement and are ordained as rabbis at our Tekes Hasmakhah. JTS ordainees are guaranteed acceptance into The Rabbinical Assembly, and receive career counseling and placement services from both JTS and the RA during their senior year. They have access to the significant congregational listings that are available only to members of the Rabbinical Assembly, and are also encouraged to apply for non-congregational jobs of many genres across the Jewish world and beyond. In a typical year, about half of our graduates begin their rabbinic careers working in congregations (either as assistants in larger congregations or as solo clergy in smaller ones), while the other half work in areas such as: chaplaincy (campus, health care, or military), education (day school or congregational), camping, agency work, and academia. Some of our recent alumni have founded new organizations such as Avodah, Hadar, and Ikar, while others have brought new direction to established institutions in North America, Israel, Europe, and wherever Jewish communities thrive.
Having described the values and structures of our curriculum we now turn to its academic content, explaining the Beit Midrash and Iyun programs in detail.
SECTION TWO: The Beit Midrash Program
The first stage of our curriculum is designed to help students learn the skills, content, and context required to explore Judaism with depth and meaning. This stage takes two to three years to complete, depending upon the student's skill set with Hebrew language and the interpretation of biblical and rabbinic text upon enrollment, and his or her rate of progress. Some students enter with Level 1 skills in Hebrew, Bible, and Talmud, while others enter with Level 2 skills; yet others have an uneven mix of skill sets. Students must complete the Skill Level 2 courses in all of these areas before proceeding to the final Beit Midrash year in Israel. Upon admission, students will be assessed for placement in either Skill Level 1 or Skill Level 2 in the areas of Hebrew, Bible, and Talmud. The faculty and dean will also assess students through grades and other benchmarks for their academic and religious development in order to determine their readiness to progress to the Skill Level 3 courses in Israel.
Beit Midrash Themes.
Skill Level 1
Text and Context. Students entering our program at the first skill level receive a rigorous introduction to the language, grammar, and conventions of biblical and rabbinic literature. They take an introductory course in Jewish prayer and a seminar that explores methods of Jewish study employed at JTS. In Bible, one courses focuses on grammar and syntax, while a second course introduces the use of traditional rabbinic commentaries. In Talmud, students study halakhic portions of tractate Sukkah in the fall, and Pesahim in the spring, and also are introduced to the historical context and theology of early rabbinic literature.
Skill Level 2
Starting with skill level 2, many courses are organized around a theme; these may be understood as concentric circles beginning with the the individual in relationship to God through the practice of prayer. What does it mean to show devotion to God? How did the Rabbis formulate the "service of the heart?" What mechanisms today can make Jewish liturgy a vehicle for awe and transformation of the individual and congregation?
Next we study the role of families in expanding the experience of kedushah in Jewish life. How do rabbinic rituals mark the formation, and dissolution of families? What are the protocols for admitting outsiders into the Jewish covenant? What psychological developments are essential to understand these and other moments of transformation in which rabbis are expected to play a positive role? What is the changing nature of Jewish families, and how can the rabbi infuse a spirit of holiness into the diverse lives of contemporary Jews?
'Am Yisra'el u-Moadav (The Jewish People and its Festivals)
Jewish peoplehood is tightly bound to the festival calendar. Studying in Jerusalem, our students consider the formulation of the festivals from the Talmud and Midrash to halakhah. The beginnings of Zionism and birth of Israel are placed within the context of marking time according to the Jewish calendar, which was the first step in the Exodus. This theme challenges students to consider their own Jewish identities within the context of peoplehood.
Brit Yisra'el V'Ha'Amim (The Covenant of Israel and Other Peoples).
This term our theme is that which is distinctive about Jewish and Israeli culture, and that which it shares with its neighbors. Nezikin is presented with the perspective of Mishpat Ivri, a source of civic law to govern the modern Jewish State and its non-Jewish citizens. Distinctive Jewish rituals such as kashrut, milah and aveilut are also placed within the larger civic context of the intersection of personal practice and public policy.
Course Descriptions: Beit Midrash Levels 1-2
A. HEBREW LANGUAGE
HEB 5009. Nearly all entering students take this intensive introduction to Hebrew grammar in the first semester of study at JTS.
Skill Level 1 (HEB 2201/5203). Year course designed to develop basic skills in Hebrew reading, focusing on vocabulary, verb structures, and written comprehension. The spring course focuses on the use of rabbinical Bible commentaries.
Skill Level 2 (5301/5303). Year course designed to develop advanced skills in Hebrew reading, focusing on vocabulary, biblical grammar, and also on oral comprehension and expression.
B. Jewish Literatures and Their INTERPRETATION
Skill Level 1 Academic Introductions BIB 6060, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, focuses on understanding the distinctive structures of the biblical text, while BIB 6070, Reading the Hebrew Bible with Rabbinic Commentaries, introduces the classical rabbinical commentaries.
Skill Level 2. The year course BIB 6106/07 surveys the Hebrew Bible with attention to text, context, and meaning employing modern works of exegesis. This course also establishes the historical context of biblical religion, focusing on the theology of ancient Israel and addressing the religious implications for the contemporary student of Bible. In the fall, the course BIB 6106 surveys the Torah and early prophets; in the spring, the course BIB 6107 establishes the ancient Near Eastern context and religious content of the Hebrew Bible, with emphasis on the later prophets and writings.
TALMUD and HALAKHAH
Skill Level 1. Students entering The Rabbinical School without extensive prior study of Talmud begin their studies at this level. Each semester includes two 6-credit Talmud classes, one taught on Monday and Wednesday and focusing on halakhic (legal) texts, while the other, taught in a double block of supervised preparation and class on Thursdays, focuses on aggadic (narrative) texts. Each course includes secondary readings and discussions to introduce the texts and context of the emergence of rabbinic Judaism.
TAL 6110 SL1 Talmud: Aggadic Sugyot: Tractates Rosh HaShanah & Yoma
TAL 6120 SL1 Talmud: Halakhic Sugyot from Tractate Sukkah
TAL 6111 SL1 Talmud: Aggadic Sugyot Regarding Revelation
TAL 6121 SL1 Talmud: Halakhic Sugyot from Tractate Pesahim
Skill Level 2. Students who are able to demonstrate significant facility with the Talmud text begin their studies on the second skill level, whose purpose is to strengthen textual skills and to expand analytical abilities with the assistance of Rashi, Tosfot, and other medieval commentators. Each semester includes two 6-credit classes, one taught Monday and Wednesday in a two-hour slot, and one taught on Thursdays in a double period of four hours. Each course includes secondary readings and discussions to introduce the texts and context of the emergence of rabbinic Judaism.
The Monday/Wednesday classes are focused on sugyot from the Babylonian Talmud dealing with prayer in the fall, and family life in the spring. The fall Thursday class is an introduction to halakhic literature, with a theme of hilkhot tefillah. In the spring, this class will focus on talmudic stories, with a special focus on Aramaic grammar and vocabulary. In the spring semester there is an additional codes course focusing on the laws of marriage, divorce, and conversion.
CDE 6130 SL2 Introduction to Halakhic Literature
TAL 6131 SL2 Talmud: Sugyot from Tractate Brakhot [Two levels]
TAL 6140 SL2 Talmud: Babylonian Aggadot: Language and Literary Structures
TAL 6141 SL2 Talmud: Sugyot from Seder Nashim [Two levels]
CDE 6112 Family Law. Introduction to the Laws of Marriage and Divorce
Beit Midrash Hevruta Time. The Beit Midrash is an integrated feature of our Talmud program. During four designated slots on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the Beit Midrash director will be present to assist students in their preparation for Talmud classes.
C. SUBJECT COURSES AND SEMINARS
PRO 7101/2. Integrating Seminar. All entering students participate in small discussion groups that allow them to discuss in confidence matters of religious development, drawing upon their academic, personal, and religious lives. This course functions as an introduction to leadership training, a theme that is developed in different ways throughout the curriculum. These conversations focus on the moral and religious qualities needed to develop one's religious identity as a person, a Jew, and a future rabbi.
Skill Level 1
COR 5001 or 5002. First Year Seminar. Incoming Skill Level 1 students take a fall seminar intended to introduce them to the methods of academic inquiry featured at JTS.
LTG 5031. Introduction to Jewish Liturgy. This spring course is designed to introduce students to the academic study of Jewish liturgy, including the history of its development and the interpretation of its texts.
Skill Level 2
PRO 6101. Living Liturgy. This course challenges participants to explore Jewish prayer with an eye to the ritual aspect of their future roles as religious leaders. The course examines the Shabbat and festival liturgy with consideration of practices used by various congregations to enhance the spiritual encounter of prayer.
PRO 6102. Human Development and the Jewish Family. Spring semester course introducing students to stages in psychological development, cultivating self-awareness, and considering the role of Jewish ritual and community in the development of gender identity and maturation, and transitions such as partnering, parenting, separation, disability, aging, and loss.
Beit Midrash in Israel
JTS has long required rabbinical students to spend a year of their course of studies in Jerusalem. The goals of this year include improved proficiency in the use of Modern Hebrew, strengthening of textual skills in Jewish studies, building a connection to the Masorti Movement, and developing a sophisticated personal and professional relationship to the State of Israel. This year is overseen by our director of Israel Programs, Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz.
Our Israel program is headquartered at our sister school, the Schechter Rabbinical School in Jerusalem. There our students study a core curriculum of Hebrew, Talmud, halakhah, and two courses related to the history of Israel. These courses explore the second two themes of the Beit Midrash curriculum: 'Am Yisra'el U-Mo'adav, The People of Israel and its Calendar; and Brit Yisra'el V'Ha-Amim, Israel's Covenant and the Nations. As such, the fall Talmud classes focus on chapters from Seder Mo'ed, whereas the spring Talmud classes draw from chapters in Seder Nezikin. Fall Halakhah classes focus on topics from Hilkhot Shabbat V'Yom Tov, while spring halakhah classes focus on Hilkhot Kashrut, Aveilut, Milah, and Tzedakah. In the fall, our students take a course on ancient Jewish history and another that considers the sacred sites and scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam related to Jerusalem. In the spring, our history course focuses on Zionism and the modern State of Israel.
Additionally, our students take elective courses in Jewish studies each semester drawn from the MA catalogue at the Schechter Institute. In the spring our students have the opportunity to study Israel education together with our students from the Davidson School's Kesher Hadash program.
Our students also participate in an Israel seminar that includes lectures at Schocken and extended tiyulim to the north and south of the country with rabbinical students from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. A generous grant from the UJA Federation of New York is allowing us to expand the exposure of our students to Israeli society beyond Jerusalem.
Transition Back to New York: By November of the fall semester, rabbinical students complete their application to one of the recognized MA programs at JTS. This allows them to return from Israel prepared to enter the second stage of our curriculum, Iyun.
SECTION THREE: Iyun Program
The second stage of our curriculum, Iyun, is a three-year course combining advanced Judaic studies with professional development on campus and in the field. Each student chooses an area of academic concentration leading to an MA, and each also chooses an area of professional concentration leading to a field internship. Synergy between our four graduate schools and partnership with our consortium partners at Union Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion make this track a model for future partnerships between our graduates and professionals of other denominations and faith traditions.
By the fall of their Israel year, students apply for an MA program within The Graduate School, H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music, or the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of JTS and complete that program's requirements. At least 18 credits toward the MA (=RS concentration) may not overlap with the Rabbinical School's Distribution and Professional and Pastoral Skills courses. Students who have previously earned an MA at JTS or at a peer institution in one of the fields below may apply to have the MA requirement waived, and may be able to eliminate one or more semesters of requirements as a result.
Distribution courses (DIS) include 15 courses from the academic departments of JTS. Of these, two each are to be from the fields of History, Literature, and Jewish Thought. Three courses are required in Bible (one in medieval exegesis, and two electives). Four are required in Rabbinics (one in Midrash, one in Codes, one in Talmud, and one elective), and there are two general electives.
Concentration courses (CON) include 18 non-overlapping credits in one of the schools, academic departments, or programs that offer a master's degree at JTS. MA programs may also require a senior thesis or comprehensive exams. Any masters degree offered by JTS will satisfy the concentration requirement of The Rabbinical School. The Davidson School offers an MA in Jewish Education. The H. L. Miller Cantorial School offers an MA in Sacred Music. The Graduate School offers MA degrees in Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, Jewish History, Jewish Literature, Jewish Thought, Talmud and Rabbinics, Ancient Judaism, Jewish Art and Visual Culture, Jewish Women's Studies, Liturgy, Medieval Jewish Studies, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Studies. Students who declare a concentration in pastoral care and counseling fulfill the requirements for the MA in Interdepartmental Studies with a certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling. There is no dual-enrollment fee charged for these master's degrees.
Professional and Pastoral skills courses (PRO) include 12 courses designed to equip our students for professional work as rabbis in different fields. PRO courses often meet on Wednesdays at 10:20 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. in order to allow adjunct faculty to convene for lunch meetings and participate when needed in community time (Wednesday lunch). Course requirements appear below. Students also use years 3–4 to complete their field rotations and internships.
Field Education is a significant component of a rabbinic education at JTS. Rotations are intended to introduce students to the wide range of work opportunities in the rabbinate. We have identified five professional areas of rabbinic engagement that we feel are important for students to experience and understand: education, youth, agency, chaplaincy, and congregation. Most of these rotations are associated with specific courses; the youth rotation is fulfilled through one of the Conservative Movement's youth programs (Camp Ramah or United Synagogue Youth).
Upon completion of each rotation, students are asked to submit to the Coordinator of Field Education (COFE), Rabbi Jonathan Lipnick, a 2- to 3-page written reflection about each of their experiences in the field. Guidelines for reflections are available online. Once all of the five rotation requirements have been completed, students register for PRO 6401 to receive rotation credit. In addition, students are invited to meet with the COFE to discuss one of their rotation experiences.
In year 4, students intern with a mentor for 400 hours by selecting one the five above-mentioned professional areas of rabbinic engagement. In the spring semester of year 3, students make an appointment with the COFE to identify the skills they would like to further develop with the support of a mentor. The COFE will work with students in securing the best placement to meet their professional goals and aspirations. While serving in their internships, students participate in the Resnick Internship Seminar.
All rabbinical students are required to complete at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (which satisfies the hospital rotation requirement as well). The Kaplan Internship fund provides our students with a tuition and modest living stipend for their CPE unit, which may be completed at JTS's Center for Pastoral Education or at another accredited CPE site. CPE units are usually completed during the summer, but extended units may be taken over the course of an academic year. The director of our Center for Pastoral Education, Rabbi Mychal Springer, is available for consultation.
Synagogue Skills. JTS is blessed with a large community of students, faculty, and alumni who are skilled in leading prayer and chanting from the Torah, prophets, and megillot. Some students begin our program with established proficiency in these areas, while others need to learn some or all of them. By the third year of study, all students should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the following areas: leading prayers in the daily, Shabbat, and festival modes of nusah; chanting Torah, haftarah, and the megillot. Students should also be able to blow shofar, tie tzitzit, and adjust tefillin knots as well as use the luach beit haknesset. It is the responsibility of students to develop their synagogue skills either by taking workshops, elective classes, or by arranging for a tutor. Cantor Nancy Abramson, director of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School, supervises completion of these skills.
Iyun Course Requirements for Academic Distribution and Professional and Pastoral Skills
Academic Distribution Requirements
Bible. Three courses are required.
Medieval Exegesis (Mikraot Gedolot)
Jewish History. Two courses are required.
History Elective. Recommended: Medieval Jewish History
History Elective. Recommended: Modern Jewish History
Jewish Literature and Culture. Two courses are required.
Literature Elective. Recommended: Medieval Literature
Literature Elective. Recommended: Modern Literature
Jewish Thought. Two courses are required.
Jewish Thought Elective. Recommended: Pre-Modern Jewish Thought
Jewish Thought Elective. Recommended: Modern Jewish Thought
Talmud and Rabbinics. Four courses are required in Talmud and Rabbinics, one in Midrash, one in Talmud, one in Codes, and one elective:
Introduction to Midrash. MID 6101.
Living Law/Senior Codes: The Theory and Practice of Halakhah
Elective from Talmud, Midrash, or Codes
Two General Judaic Electives
Professional and Pastoral Skills Courses
Skills for Pedagogy (EDU 5031). Helps students create effective and engaging lessons for learners of all ages, using student-centered techniques and diverse methods of assessment. Students are required to be teaching in a classroom at least one hour a week to fulfill the course requirement. The practicum component affords students the opportunity for structured supervision. This course is offered jointly with the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.
Methods of Pastoral Care and Counseling (PAS 7431). Teaches techniques of compassionate listening, professional codes of confidentiality, mandatory reporting, the establishment of proper boundaries, the identification of serious issues requiring referral to appropriate mental health professionals, self-care, etc. May be co-offered with Union Theological Seminary. Includes practicum (40 hours of hospital chaplaincy).
Rabbinic Roles at Life-Cycle Rituals (PRO 7301). This practicum focuses on the liturgy, dinim, and rabbinic role from intake to ceremony in the following rituals: brit milah, simchat bat, pidyon haben, giur, kiddushin, gerushin, funeral, and unveiling.
Communication (PRO 7206). An integrated approach to public speaking, writing, and electronic communication. Challenges students to identify their message, research their topic, and articulate their ideas with wit, punch, and lasting impact. Students prepare sample presentations of different formats (e.g., sermons, invocations, life-cycle speeches, bulletin articles, op-eds, blogs, web pages, etc.).
Leading and Managing Jewish Nonprofit Organizations (EDU 5609 or PRO 8610 Executive Leadership). Examines the structure of nonprofit organizations, their legal status, governance, and diverse purposes. Basic principles of budgeting and accounting, human resources, and fund-raising. Prepares students for establishing healthy lay-professional cooperation, as well as teamwork within the professional team. Explores partnerships beyond the institutional and denominational boundaries of the congregation, school, or agency.
Field Education Rotations (PRO 6401). This course code indicates completion of the five field rotations as attested by the coordinator of Field Education; there is no classroom component to the course.
Resnick Internship Seminar (PRO 7401). Students enrolled in the Resnick Internship Program take part in the Internship Seminar. By coming together with peers and a trained clinical supervisor, students have the opportunity to reflect further on what they are learning in their placements, and to integrate it within the context of the formation of a rabbinic identity. An alternative is the Kaplan Pastoral Internship, which is associated with a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.
Resnick Internship Seminar (PRO 7402). Continuation of fall course. The second semester addresses different models of excellence and recent research on vibrant congregations and agencies.
Conservative Judaism Today and Tomorrow. What is the intellectual and spiritual mandate of Conservative Judaism? In what areas are we excelling, and in what areas are we most challenged? What initiatives can strengthen our role in formulating vibrant Jewish communities in North America and beyond? Taught in rotation by Chancellor Eisen and Dean Nevins.
The Art of Public Worship. A course dedicated to the planning and implementation of Jewish worship services, using workshop techniques and expert practitioners.
Senior Seminar: Preparing for Placement (PRO 7409). This course prepares students to identify their goals, present themselves professionally, interview and negotiate their first jobs. In addition to practical skills, it examines case studies of various expressions of rabbinic leadership in the field. Includes simulated interviews.
Senior Seminar: Transition to the Rabbinate (PRO 7410). This course focuses on professional ethics, maintaining records, establishing patterns of lifelong learning and spiritual growth, the responsible use and potential for abuse of authority, community organizing, and working within the context of both the Conservative Movement and the broader Jewish and general community. Students use open-space planning to help develop their syllabus with instructor.
Professional or Pastoral Skills Elective. Choose an elective from the PRO and PAS offerings or an advisor-approved course at one of our consortium partners, HUC and UTS.
Concentration Courses for the MA Degree (18 non-overlapping Credits plus Required thesis, comprehensive exams or field work)
These are determined by each academic department. Many MA programs require either a series of comprehensive exams or the completion of a thesis.
No curriculum is sufficient to provide adequate training for every area of competence that will be required of a professional. This is certainly true for rabbis, who may serve in a broad variety of established and emerging fields over the course of many decades. Our ultimate purpose is to provide students with enough depth of Judaic knowledge, competence in professional skills, and experience of Jewish community to help them emerge as curious and creative lifelong leaders. It is that sense of curiosity, paired with humility, kindness, and a passion for holiness that will allow our graduates to become the visionary religious leaders needed by future generations.