JTS Rabbinical School Adopts New Curriculum

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

May 13, 2008, New York, NY

Professor Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, today announced that The Rabbinical School has adopted a new curriculum distinguished by great depth and specialization in the academic and professional disciplines necessary for rabbinic leadership in the twenty-first century.

The creation of this new course of study fulfills a pledge made by Chancellor Eisen in his inaugural address last September, in which he announced the first major task the faculty would undertake under his leadership was a curricular review of the rabbinical and cantorial schools.

“JTS has a tradition of excellence in both the academic and professional training of rabbis. This curriculum builds upon existing strengths while engaging our students in the shifting realities of the religious, sociological, and technological contexts of North America and Israel. It will provide new tools for a successful rabbinate. Our ultimate goal is for the rabbis we ordain to bring the light of Torah into the world, creating sacred centers of Jewish life, teaching the mitzvot, and realizing the Jewish ideals of truth, justice, and peace in society,” stated Chancellor Eisen.

The curriculum was designed by a faculty committee co-chaired by Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Pearl Resnick dean of The Rabbinical School, and Dr. Barry Holtz, Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education and the incoming dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, with substantial input by the faculty, administration, current students, alumni, and Advisory Board of The Rabbinical School.

Highlights of the new curriculum include:

  • Expanded training in pastoral counseling skills.
  • Intensification and integration of professional skills, with new emphasis on leadership skills in the classroom, boardroom, media, and society.
  • New courses in comparative religion, Conservative Judaism, and the sociology of American Jewry.
  • Tighter integration of the study of classical texts with practical halakhah to help meet the needs of congregants and students.
  • Moving the year-long Israel program from year three to year two in order to strengthen Hebrew skills at an earlier stage and allowing students to benefit from the cultural enrichment gained by time in Israel. The program will be lengthened to include a six-week summer ulpan in spoken Hebrew that will be combined with volunteer projects and touring. Students’ exposure to the Masorti Movement, Conservative Yeshiva, and diverse communities outside of Jerusalem will be broadened.
  • The adoption of a concentration leading to a departmental master’s degree by each student.
  • The opportunity for students focused on halakhah to train as modern poskim (rabbinic experts).
  • The introduction of minimester courses each winter on such topics as “The Tapestry of Faith in New York City,” “Major Organizations of the American Jewish Community,” and “Social Justice and the Rabbi.”

The curriculum review of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music is currently underway. Further information about the cantorial program is available by calling (212) 678-8037.

Further information about The Rabbinical School is available by calling (212) 678-8817.