Who Becomes a JTS Rabbinical Student?

The short answer is, anyone. A compassionate person whose love for God, Torah, and the Jewish People calls for a life of sacred service. A leader with twin commitments to traditional study and practice. A learner thirsty for scholarship and spirituality. An innovator eager for experience and rigorous training. An advocate whose religious vision embraces social justice and contemporary concerns.

These are some qualities of a candidate for whom The Rabbinical School of JTS may be a good fit:

  • Personal Middot (qualities of character): Rabbinical students are seen as role models of Jewish spiritual practice and ritual observance. Humility, kindness, and curiosity are also essential qualities for success in our school and in the rabbinate
  • Jewish Commitments: At the time of application, the candidate demonstrates that they follow or are growing into a life of traditional observance. We recognize that religious growth is not necessarily a linear progression, and hope to provide a safe space for students as they move forward on this path. As you consider entering The Rabbinical School, we will certainly discuss our religious norms and expectations with you. In general, the religious commitments we look for candidates to cultivate include:

• Lifelong Torah study
• Committed, questioning, and loving engagement with God
• Organization of one’s life around mitzvot, including pillars of public and private behavior such as kashrut, Shabbat and festivals, and daily communal prayer. Tallit and tefillin are expected practices in The Rabbinical School.
• Holiness in relationships, including halakhic and ethical parameters of sexual intimacy
• Advocacy for a peaceful future for the State of Israel and its inhabitants, and responsibility for the welfare of one’s fellow Jews in all places
• Egalitarianism: While rabbinical students at JTS are not required to exclusively follow egalitarian practice, they must affirm equal opportunity for Jewish men and women in Torah study, participation in the mitzvot, and Jewish leadership.

  • Academic Profile: A successful candidate for The Rabbinical School will:

• have a strong academic record and an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
• have strong English communication skills and competence in academic study and writing
• demonstrate academic readiness with the GRE or alternative standardized test
• meet or exceed entry-level skill in classical Jewish text and in Hebrew language

  • Time Commitment: The rabbinical program at JTS is designed as a five-year, full-time commitment. Based upon prior study and degrees earned, some incoming students receive advanced academic standing that translates into a shorter program. Others’ training extends beyond five years if they need more time to attain text and Hebrew skills prior to beginning course work at JTS.
  • Part-Time Study: Part-time students are welcome. In coordination with the Rabbinical School dean, typically after a first year of full-time study, they craft a part-time program so they may work or pursue other commitments while pursuing their rabbinical training.