The Rabbinical School curriculum is a five-year full-time course of study. The required course distribution applies to all students, although some may be able to demonstrate achievement of certain required courses to the satisfaction of the appropriate academic department. Students may be exempted from up to nine credits of coursework based on courses taken prior to The Rabbinical School upon receiving departmental approval. Normally, a student must take at least four courses and The Rabbinical School seminar (or a field-work assignment) during each semester of rabbinical studies.
Every student must be in full-time residence at JTS in New York for a minimum of four years. The third year of the program is spent at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem.
Talmud studies are conducted in havruta/shiur format. Students study in hevrutot in the beit midrash prior to the shiurim given by each course instructor. The required hevruta should be supplemented by additional hevruta sessions in the beit midrash throughout the week. Tutors, including two Rabbi Bernard Leffel Beit Midrash Scholars, are available to assist students in their study in the Beit Midrash on a regular basis through the week.
Beginning with the second year of rabbinical studies, courses may be taught in Hebrew. In addition, instructors in most courses may regularly assign readings in Hebrew to maintain and reinforce students' Hebrew skills. Normally, courses taken during the year in Israel will be taught in Hebrew.
The third year of rabbinical studies is to be taken in Jerusalem, at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. A service project, to which the student will be assigned in Jerusalem, is also part of this requirement. Students requesting a deferment or exemption from the year in Israel must present a petition to a faculty committee constituted for this purpose. Exemptions will not be granted lightly, but only on demonstration of the most pressing need. A meeting before the committee may be required.
The Rabbinical School seminar, in which all students must be registered each semester of the first and third years of the program, will not be a graded course in the usual sense. Instead, the seminar leader will write an extensive evaluation of each student at the end of the semester. That evaluation will assess the student's progress academically, religiously, and professionally, and may serve as a basis for further advice and guidance from the dean concerning the student's needs with respect to rabbinical training.
Rabbinical students are expected to pass, by the end of year one, competency examinations in liturgy and halakhah. The liturgy examination will test the ability to identify and understand key passages from the weekday and Shabbat liturgies, liturgical structures, and the history of the siddur as found in Jewish Worship by Abraham Millgram. Competency will be tested and certified by the Department of Jewish Literature. The Halakhah examination will test the knowledge of basic practical halakhah, with special attention to A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice by Isaac Klein (excluding chapters 22-25, 34-35, and 37). Competency will be certified by the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics.
The MA degree may be awarded upon successful completion of two years of The Rabbinical School curriculum. This is an appropriate time for a student to assess his/her progress towards the rabbinate and for consultation concerning career directions within the rabbinate.
The synagogue skills listed below must be completed by the end of year four of the program. Classes in nusah are offered as part of the required year-two and year-four curriculum. If a student already possesses competence in any of the skills, he/she may be tested by a member of The Rabbinical School administration or faculty or nusah instructor, for a notation on the student's record. Skills listed below that are not included in the nusah classes will need to be acquired on one's own and tested by a designated member of the faculty.
Each student must choose a field of concentration no later than the beginning of the spring semester of the fourth year. Fields of concentration include Bible, rabbinics, Midrash, Jewish history, Jewish literature, Jewish liturgy, Jewish education, Jewish philosophy, Jewish women's studies, or pastoral care. Students may also propose other interdisciplinary fields of concentration, which will be subject to the approval of the dean, The Rabbinical School faculty committee, and the academic departments or programs involved.
Each concentration is comprised of thirteen courses, including both required and elective courses. Students concentrating in Bible must complete two text-based (study of a biblical book rather than a theme) courses, one course in advanced parshanut, one seminar, and two other courses in the field of Bible. Elective courses must include two courses in rabbinics, one in history, one in literature, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in rabbinics must complete six courses in the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics numbered 7000 and higher. At least four of these courses must be designated in the course listings as Talmud (rather than Midrash or Codes). Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, one in history, one in literature, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in Midrash must complete two courses in methodologies in the study of Midrash, one text course in Midrash numbered 7000 or higher, one course designated as Talmud numbered 7000 or higher, and two courses numbered 7000 or higher designated as either Talmud, Midrash, or Codes. Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, one in history, one in literature, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in history must complete six courses in the department numbered 5000 and higher. Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, two in rabbinics, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in literature or liturgy must complete six courses in the discipline, one of which must be a seminar (in the absence of a liturgy seminar, liturgy concentrators should take a literature seminar). Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, two in rabbinics, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in education must complete EDU 5127: Foundations and Current Issues in Jewish Education; EDU 5115 or 5116: Developmental Issues in Jewish Education; EDU 5031: Skills for Teaching; EDU 7401: Practicum for Rabbinic Education Interns; and two additional courses in education. Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, two in rabbinics, one in philosophy, and two free.
Students concentrating in philosophy must complete six courses in philosophy numbered 5000 or higher, one of which must be a seminar or course in the philosophy of religion. Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, two in rabbinics, and three free.
Students concentrating in Jewish women's studies must complete the program seminar and five additional courses approved for the Jewish women's studies concentration by the program adviser. Elective courses must include one course in each of the following departments: Bible, history, literature, philosophy and rabbinics, and two free.
Students concentrating in pastoral care must complete PAS 7403 and PAS 7404: Pastoral Internship I & II: The Paul A. Kaplan Internship Program and four additional courses in pastoral care numbered 7000 or higher. Students who have completed PAS 7403 and 7404 as their required rabbinical school internship will take appropriate substitute courses. Elective courses must include two courses in Bible, two in rabbinics, and three free.
Rabbinical students are required to perform rabbinic field education in addition to their academic work. Students participate in rotations in various rabbinic settings in the field, including congregations, hospitals, communal service agencies, schools, Hillel Foundations, and Camp Ramah for several weeks at a time in order to observe, learn about, and participate in different aspects of rabbinic work.
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During year four, each student is required to work in a rabbinic setting for approximately fifteen hours per week. The work is done under a mentor, with whom the student will be matched by The Rabbinical School office. In recognition of the generous support of Pearl and Jack Resnick, the program is known as The Resnick Internship Program. This major internship assignment will also be accompanied by various workshops and modules at JTS.
Mentors and Host Congregations/Agencies for 2007–2008 include:
During the fourth and fifth years, students are required to take a series of Religious Leadership Colloquia (PRO 7407, 7408, 7409, and 7410) and Senior Homiletics (PRO 7209).
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A minimester is held each year prior to spring semester. Click here to see program descriptions.
This program focuses on the acquisition and enhancement of professional skills: administrative, pastoral, educational, programmatic, and personal. Attendance is required of all students in residence in New York, depending on the year of study (see required course distribution for more information).
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