The RRC Rabbinic program is founded on the question: What skills and knowledge do 21st-century rabbis need to create and to sustain vibrant Jewish life and to lead, inspire and support the communities they serve? The curriculum is designed to cultivate skills and knowledge that will allow students to be:
• vessels of Torah who are deeply rooted in Judaism’s rich textual legacy and are able to share that legacy with others in ways that enrich their lives with meaning.
• sh’likhei tzibur (ritual leaders) who lead communities in meaningful and inspiring prayer and ritual as they move through the rhythms of the year and of their individual lives.
• self-aware models of strength and kindness whose actions and leadership model the value that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God). RRC’s curriculum cultivates students’ interpersonal skills and their growth in the middot (virtues and behaviors) that allow people to live up to this central and demanding Jewish value.
• effective and socially aware leaders who lead in all the settings in which Jews seek meaning and community and who work for greater justice in the Jewish world and beyond. In order to train students for leadership roles in synagogues, nonprofit organizations and educational settings, the curriculum includes training and internship experiences that develop entrepreneurial, financial and organizational skills.
• healing and helpful pastoral caregivers who will accompany people in times of great joy and great sadness. At RRC, students learn from leaders in the fields of pastoral and spiritual care and are supported by teachers, mentors and colleagues as they develop the inner resources that will allow them to support others in their times of need.
The Core Program
The core program is designed to meet the needs of students who enter RRC with a love of Judaism and a passion for serving the Jewish people, a strong undergraduate training in the liberal arts or sciences, and a demonstrated aptitude in the areas of social and emotional intelligence. Students who enter RRC with limited Hebrew skills begin with the Mekhinah Year, which prepares them to succeed in the five-year core program. Students who enter RRC with more extensive experience, knowledge or skills in the areas of Jewish studies, ritual or organizational leadership, or pastoral care modify the program to meet their current capabilities, needs and interests. Our instructors draw on best practices from traditional academic study, traditional Jewish learning, mindfulness practice and pastoral and professional training to help students cultivate their intellectual, personal and professional growth and learning.
The core program consists of two parts: The first two years are the Foundational Years, which provide students with grounding in the Jewish legacy from antiquity through modern times. These years also provide students with basic training in practical rabbinic skills and opportunities for personal spiritual growth. The final three years are the Integration Years. These years, which begin with a year of study in Israel, further cultivate students’ knowledge, skills and abilities through individualized programs of study.
RRC requires that some students complete one preparatory year of study before they are admitted to the five-year core program. The Mekhinah Year is designed to accommodate students who lack some skills required to begin rabbinical study but appear to have excellent potential for service to the Jewish people.
The Mekhinah Year program focuses on intensive study of Hebrew language and literature. Students also devote substantial time to the study of Jewish practices—the halakhah of customs, ceremonies, life-cycle events and calendar—and participate in a learners’ minyan. Successful completion of the Mekhinah Year qualifies students to continue in the College’s five-year rabbinical training program.
During their Foundational Years, students cultivate a strong foundation in all areas of rabbinic formation. They encounter the unfolding story of Jewish civilization by studying texts, traditions and lived experience of Jews from antiquity to the present. In addition, they begin to cultivate pastoral, interpersonal and liturgical skills through classroom study and applied experience. The Foundational Years also include opportunities for students to cultivate the personal and spiritual growth that will animate and sustain their work as rabbis.
After completing the Foundational Years, students enter the Integration Years. At RRC, we believe that the integration of intellectual, personal and professional modalities lies at the core of the rabbinic vocation. The Integration Years foster this crucial melding.
Students spend the first Integration Year in Israel, where they develop their Hebrew skills and learn firsthand about Israeli culture, history and politics and the experiences of Israel’s diverse populations. During the Israel year, many students engage in study and experiential learning that helps them to better understand the experiences of both Israelis and Palestinians. Many students engage in intensive study in one of Israel’s many Batei Midrash (houses of study), where they have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of Jewish texts through traditional study.
During their integration years at RRC, students build on the skills and learning they have cultivated in the earlier parts of the program. Students take advanced text courses, which allow them to delve deeper into Judaism’s rich textual tradition. They also take courses that bring together academic, traditional and applied modes of study as well as courses that combine the study of traditional texts and past Jewish experience with contemporary theory and creative application. During the Integration Years, students continue to develop their professional skills through study and practical learning in the areas of pastoral care, ritual leadership and organizational leadership and through increasingly advanced field placements. Students further develop their professional skills within the RRC community through leading services, planning programs and teaching fellow students and faculty during our community learning times. During the Integration Years, students are encouraged to design their own learning experiences and projects that allow them to build on their individual areas of strength and interest.