Preparing for Shlichut-שליחות: An Overview of the Rabbinical Program at JTS
At The Jewish Theological Seminary, a powerful partnership of faculty and devoted mentors in the field prepares rabbis comprehensively for lives of sacred service. The JTS culture is one of rigorous study, devotion through learning, prayer and observance, spiritual growth, and a vital and nurturing community.
Our program is structured in two stages. Stage I, Beit Midrash, provides rabbinical students with the strongest possible foundation in the core of biblical and rabbinic literature, built upon the fundamentals of Hebrew language. Diagnostic exams taken during the application and enrollment process measure skill levels (1 and 2) in these disciplines and place students in the program. They indicate where one needs intensive focus in particular content or skills, and where one is ready to advance more quickly. Beit Midrash also includes essential work in finding one's rabbinic voice, deepening one's prayer life, and developing professional skills. Beit Midrash generally requires two years of study, one in New York and one in Israel. Students entering with intermediate levels of Hebrew and Talmud may be required to devote the summers prior and following year one to strengthen these core areas of study. Our summer Nishma program in New York and Jump Start program in Jerusalem are designed to provide such reinforcement to our academic program during the year.
Stage II is called Iyyun, and includes MA study, field work, and advanced Judaica. It takes three years of full-time study. Students who have already earned an MA or PhD in Jewish studies may request a waiver for the MA, and thus shorten the Iyyun stage to two years. Others may prefer to switch to part-time status and extend the Iyyun stage to four or more years. The default time to attain ordination with the MA at JTS is thus five (5) years, with several variables that can shorten or extend the course of study.
We are pleased to announce that, beginning in 2014, a thoroughly redesigned program is giving students distinctive experiences in Hebrew ulpan, customized yeshiva learning, and university studies. An experiential program and internship together ensure that our students get out of the classroom and explore Israeli communities well beyond Jerusalem. Our program takes care to make that "Israel Experience" authentic and relevant.
Where Stage I, Beit Midrash, integrates study and experience, and acculturates as much as it teaches, Stage II, Iyyun, opens the JTS experience in a more student-directed way. Each student selects an area of Judaica in which to pursue a master's degree. At the same time that students specialize academically, they undertake diverse, mentored internships that provide critical experience and real-life context for their classroom studies. Among the required fields of work for internship training is a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, which consistently ranks high as a synthesizing experience.
In Iyyun, students' hevruta study, both with their professors and with one another, takes on a life of its own. Students find that their professional skills accumulate rapidly in Iyyun through course work, mentorships, discussion groups, and paid work.
Ordination and conferral of the MA degree conclude the outstanding preparation offered at JTS. Our rabbis go on to serve in synagogues and schools, Hillels and agencies, as freelancers and artists, scholars and chaplains; true shlichim of, and to, today's Jewish communities.
Download the Rabbinical School curriculum (PDF).
Meet the Rabbinical School administration and some recent alumni.
Visit the Rabbinical School admissions page to get started >>
Eliezer Diamond is the Rabbi Judah Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary.