The deep motivation to serve God, the Jewish people, and all people with wisdom and compassion is extraordinarily precious. That’s why at JTS we seek to nurture the heart, and not only the head: to ensure that the original calling that led a person to become a rabbi is nurtured and refined throughout the five intensive years of study and practice.
Group Meetings and Spiritual Mentors
Through formal and informal programs, rabbinical students are spiritually supported at every stage of their training. In addition, all students are paired with spiritual mentors who spend time with them as individuals and in small groups over meals, whether on campus, out in the neighborhood, or in the mentor’s home. For many students, Clinical Pastoral Education is a breakthrough experience, when the general desire to serve meets the powerful reality of people in need.
Prayer is the most regular—and also the most irregular—site of spiritual mentoring. It is regular because we gather in community three times a day to pray. Our Women’s League Seminary Synagogue is a beautiful traditional egalitarian worship space. Students learn the techniques and norms of Jewish worship, but are challenged not to become too regular and stale in their prayer life. Songs, stories, music, and meditation are all used to deepen the prayer experience and prepare students to lead worship in diverse settings.
Many Modes of Spiritual Leadership
At JTS we offer several modalities of spiritual leadership. Some are drawn to the ecstatic Torah of the Hasidic masters, while others embrace the discipline of Mussar (ethics). Many students yearn to concentrate on the realms of Torah and prayers, while others are eager to engage in social issues, applying Jewish concepts of mishpat (justice), tzedek (righteousness), and hesed (compassion) to the urgent needs of our society.
Rather than lifting up one mode as the exclusive path, we explore them all, specializing as our students’ interests and changing circumstances indicate. With both joy and conviction, we prepare students to convey the gifts of Torah and mitzvot to a world that desperately needs them.