Integrating academic study and religious formation is essential to rabbinic education. The Rabbinical School program at The Jewish Theological Seminary has three formal structures for mentoring and advising to ensure that students get the individualized attention they need to "put it all together" in settings conducive to that kind of productive reflection:
• Academic Advising: Each student is assigned an academic advisor who helps him/her make the best decisions regarding elective course work, the sequence of courses, and balancing academic course work with field study and professional commitments.
• Mentoring Groups: The Rabbinical School student body is divided into groups of six to ten students, under the guidance of a member of the Rabbinical School faculty, rabbinic staff, or rabbis in the field. These mixed-year groups meet periodically to provide confidential space for formative, open conversation about their experiences in school and in the field, and to give voice to what's in their hearts and on their minds. Students also meet one-on-one with their mentors in the context of this program.
• Internship Mentors: The field education component of our program is predicated on the close mentoring students get from their field supervisors, and on the processing of field experience in the classroom at JTS. It's a given that rabbinic formation happens during live interaction with the people we serve. JTS students also benefit from multiple fellowships that provide specialized training and mentoring during their Israel year, campus Hillel assignments, and other fieldwork.
Finally, students regularly schedule office hours or "out for tea" or "dinner at home" visits with the deans and members of the JTS faculty and staff.