Posts tagged ‘rabbis’

Case Study in a New Paradigm for Rabbinic Training

ordination-e1464892528553“His training looks more like the 21st century world that rabbis will live in in America.”

Paradigm is an overused word but in this case I think it fits. The fact that we talk about “ordaining” rabbis speak to the paradigmatic change in the rabbinate. Jewish tradition says nothing about rabbis being ordained. Quite the contrary, our tradition holds that rabbis have no more religious authority than any other Jew. But that we adopted this very Christian term, replacing s’micha (literally laying of hands) speaks to a need for change.

Protestant seminaries abound. The Association for Theological Schools (ATS), the accrediting body for American seminaries, has nearly 300 member schools. Very few are denomination-specific and even those that are accept students of many flavors other than their own. Once a student finishes their studies (usually with an M.Div.) they are then ordained by their respective denomination. So why not rabbis?

June 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Top rabbis

Newsweek just published their (now annual) list of top rabbis in America. This year they split the categories into Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America and Top 50 Influential American Rabbis. I had planned to leave this alone (except for a post on Synablog because many of the rabbis are associate with Synagogue 3000), but after reading Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ post on and Tamar Fox’s post on jewcy I couldn’t help myself.

Last year when the list came out, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote a great piece in the New York Jewish Week entitled, “Solace For Rabbis Not Among ‘Top 50’.” I won’t try to rewrite or even paraphrase Salkin’s article but he makes several points worth quoting – and remembering.

“Impact? Influence? What possible way is there to gauge the influence and impact of rabbis who, quietly and without fanfare, teach Torah every day of any week in any synagogue?” How many thousands of American Jews have been touched by an interaction with a rabbi who changed their life? How on earth could we possibly measure this kind of impact?

“’s list of top rabbis should not only cause concern for rabbis, it should cause concern for lay leaders as well. The making of a Jew is a slow and laborious task, and most of the work happens out of anyone’s range of sight.” Agreed – this list only makes it harder for ‘in the trench’ rabbis to do the excellent work they do, every day, every week, slowly forming individuals.

And finally, “And so, to my colleagues who are peeved that they didn’t make the list, despite their contacts, and to those Jews in the pews who are miffed that their rabbis’ names somehow got left on the cutting-room floor, do not despair. Like the afikomen at the Seder, the real goodness that happens is often hidden — it’s just waiting for someone to find it.”

This is all true – unless I’m on the list next year!

April 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm 1 comment