Trans-denominational Jewish Rabbinical School Confronts Unique Challenges

January 22, 2005

Source: The New York Times

On January 22, 2005 The New York Times reported, "in his 12 years as president of Hebrew College, a center for transdenominational Jewish education in this Boston suburb, David M. Gordis has seen all types of believers walk through the door, from the devout to the questioning to those who cannot quite figure out where they fit into Judaism... But while diverse beliefs are one of the college's hallmarks, they posed a complication when students approached Dr. Gordis about adding a rabbinical school to its array of Jewish studies. Dr. Gordis liked the idea but knew that whatever was begun here would not fit into the usual rabbinical-school mold. Creating a traditional rabbinical school, where students study and are ordained in a particular branch of Judaism, was not an option, as Hebrew College is open to all students. Dr. Gordis concluded that a rabbinical school was necessary but would need to train rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum. So in 2003, Hebrew College opened a five-year, full-time multidenominational rabbinical school, joining a handful of other institutions, including the Academy for Jewish Religion in Brooklyn and the Alliance for Jewish Renewal in Philadelphia, that have transdenominational rabbinical programs."