Join the trans-denom revolution at Hebrew College! Ta Shma: Prospective Students Weekend Nov. 1-4

For all you out there in the “Maybe Rabbis Club,” as my friends and I affectionately titled it (I left the club a few years later to join the “Future Rabbis Club”), now is the time to check out Hebrew College Rabbinical School.

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I know I’ve written a little about the school and what we do, and I have a post I need to write about Art Green’s amazing convocation speech [you can listen to him talk about kabbalah on NPR's Fresh Air here], but here’s the deal: Hebrew College Rabbinical School is where the jam is. Seriously.

And for those of you contemplating service as your life path, but who might be nervous about lacking denominational affiliation, joining a new endeavor, job prospects, blah blah blah all the things I thought meant I couldn’t apply to Hebrew College, think again. It took major pushing from my mentor (you can see us celebrating her installation as Dean of the Rabbinical School below) to get me to apply, and now I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else to prepare myself to be a revolutionary in the empowerment-based, text-saavy, joyful, meaningful, creative, independent Jewish future I (and I suspect many of us) are working to build.

“What does a transdenominational rabbinical school look like?” many people wonder. It’s surprisingly simple. For those of us who have ever been to a pluiralistic Jewish retreat, gathering, or celebration, it looks like that. Period. People come, we learn together, we argue, we challenge, we try new things, and we are challenged to define our own spiritual and professional paths not according to denominational dogma but according to our own searching, through intensive education and with mentors and teachers from all backgrounds. It looks like any pluralistic day school, or yeshiva, or retreat. It looks like Limmud, it looks like National Havurah Institute, it looks like Jews in the Woods. Except all year long. And with common mission among students to change the world for the better and to bring about a new kind of Jewish communal life.

See for yourself. Come and learn with us, sing with us, pray with us, share with us.

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Details on the flip.

Ta Sh’ma
Prospective Rabbinical Student Retreat at Hebrew College, Nov. 1–4

Please join the students and faculty of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College for Ta Sh’ma, Thursday, November 1–Sunday, November 4. Come study, pray, celebrate and experience the vibrant community of our transdenominational rabbinical school, under the leadership of Dr. Art Green.

Our retreat begins Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m. with tefilah, followed by an opportunity to sit in on classes and to meet our students and faculty. You’ll enjoy a meaningful Shabbat of uplifting prayer, song and inspiring study with Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Dean of the Rabbinical School. Our program concludes Sunday at 12:00 p.m. after a morning information session.

For details and to register, click here or contact Rabbi Sara Zacharia, szacharia at hebrewcollege.edu.

16 Responses to “Join the trans-denom revolution at Hebrew College! Ta Shma: Prospective Students Weekend Nov. 1-4”

  1. I must object to your referring to Pardes as a pluralistic Yeshiva (as you imply in your hyperlink). First, as far as I know, they do not see themselves as a yeshiva, which is why their name is Mechon (Machon?) Pardes and not Yeshivat Pardes. Second, they are an Orthodox institution! Their students may be transdenominational, but their faculty, and their hashkafa, is not.
    That said, if you could move Hebrew College to Tel Aviv, maybe you could get me to join the transdenom revolution.


    Arie · September 26th, 2007 at 5:31 am
  2. I’m glad Arie said the above re: Pardes, as now I don’t have to. (But I guess this comment kinda does anyway…)

    Also, for maybe/future rabbis out there, I went to Hebrew College’s Ta’ Sh’ma last year, and can strongly second YehuditBrachah’s recommendation. It’s a great chance to find out (more) about the school, the learning environment, and all the wonderful people.


    feygele · September 26th, 2007 at 6:16 am
  3. And I third it. I know one of the professors in the Rabbinical program, and often go to their public lectures. It’s really rather an amazing place. (Perhaps the most amazing thing about it is that it’s in Boston as opposed to being in NY!)


    cipher · September 26th, 2007 at 6:56 am
  4. Everything I’ve heard about HC is fabulous, and the people I know there are all wonderful, smart, committed, creative folks. I’m glad it’s such a good experience for you, Yehudit.

    (This post made me smile because much of what you say about being at a transdenominational rabbinic school is the same stuff I say about being an ALEPH student. Which makes sense; we’re transdenominational too…)


    Rachel · September 26th, 2007 at 7:18 am
  5. From the Pardes website:
    www.pardes.org.il/about/philosophy/index.php#3

    “Much more than a co-ed yeshiva, Pardes in Jerusalem offers a variety of educational Israel programs…”

    “As a matter of principle, Pardes is not affiliated with any political party or religious denomination. At the same time, we are committed to Jewish practice as prescribed by Halacha (Jewish Law), and this is reflected in our official activities and events. Pardes faculty do not impose any patterns of observance or belief on students. We support student initiatives that meet the plurality of religious needs.”

    Take as you will. Seems like Mechon Pardes identifies itself as a yeshiva, and also takes a halachic approach to its official activities, while supporting pluralism & honest religious diversity among its students. All the folks I’ve talked to who went there confirm that it is what it says it is. I don’t think we need to have a “more pluralistic than thou” contest.


    chillul Who? · September 26th, 2007 at 11:20 am
  6. Thanks for all the comments about Pardes. I included it as a reference point because I thought it would be an easy way for some people to understand what a pluralistic learning environment might be like — teachers might have their own opinions, but students come from all walks of life. Of course, Hebrew College is much more open in many ways than Pardes, and I originally was thinking of linking to the Conservative Yeshiva, but the CY obviously is affiliated with the Conservative Movement, even though it itself is a pluralistic institution in terms of student body.

    And Arie, we will get you yet. :-)


    YehuditBrachah · September 26th, 2007 at 12:08 pm
  7. Since when is Jewschool about free advertising for a specific Rab program?


    Barkin · September 26th, 2007 at 12:37 pm
  8. a few quick points:

    *it is useful to draw a contrast between the indy jewish scene and the transdenominational scene
    *hillel is transdenom (basically) but not indy. it employs staff and will probably hire lots of HC rabbis in the year to come as it has hired Chovevei Torah rabbis already.
    *JITW, NHC, etc are indy and will not hire rabbis. these are volunteer driven communities and i think it is a mistake to conflate what Hebrew College is doing and with what those orgs are doing. you can work on making those organizations happen whether or not you have ordination and won’t get paid for it either way.
    *professionally jobs are likely to be in synagogues, hospitals, hillels, and other organizations, like denominational rabbinical schools.
    *lots of cool people go to HC.
    *is everyone on the faculty of Pardes still orthodox? if so, then it isn’t a who is more pluralistic pissing contest at all Chillul Who? it just isn’t praticularly diverse in it’s faculty and is inviting a diverse group to learn from a not so diverse group. structurally that looks more like kiruv than pluralism.


    zt · September 26th, 2007 at 2:27 pm
  9. ZT writes:
    *it is useful to draw a contrast between the indy jewish scene and the transdenominational scene

    YES. There is overlap, but they’re not identical. Also, we should avoid using any of the words “independent”, “transdenominational”, “pluralistic”, “havurah”, etc. (each of which differs in meaning from the others) as a synonym for “good” (regardless of what correlations, or even causations, we may see). If we could stop doing that, then perhaps people will stop trying to apply those terms in cases where they don’t belong (“Yes, technically it’s a denominationally-affiliated synagogue with a rabbi and a staff, but it’s a really wonderful community that’s doing great things, therefore it’s basically a pluralistic independent havurah.”). These terms should be descriptions, not value judgments.


    BZ · September 27th, 2007 at 10:57 pm
  10. Re Pardes:
    I used to think that Pardes was intentionally deceptive, by using pluralistic-sounding language (sounding similar to sales pitches from Hebrew College, Limmud NY, etc.) without using the p word explicitly, so that students wouldn’t know what they were getting themselves into. I recently learned that (perhaps in response to the popular misconception that is out there) Pardes now tells students in the orientation on the first day, “Pardes is not pluralistic” (or something to that effect).

    Regardless of Pardes’s culpability or innocence in furthering misconceptions to the contrary, Pardes is not pluralistic.

    Actually, I should restate that, since I have argued for definitions of pluralism that encompass multiple, but not all, identities. What I mean more precisely is that Pardes’s pluralism does not extend to anywhere near the range of identities that people often think it does. Even if the student body itself contains that range of identities.

    “Students come from all walks of life” is not a definition of pluralism by any means. You can get that at Chabad, or (hi DK!) the Jewish Student Union.


    BZ · September 27th, 2007 at 11:11 pm
  11. Pardes has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.


    Amit · September 29th, 2007 at 5:46 pm
  12. Pardes’s faculty extends into the Conservative zone. While the majority of the teachers are Modern Orthodox, and the institution runs itself according Orthodox definitions of Halakha, it usually supports both a ‘traditional’ minyan and an ‘egal’ minyan, and generally does not attempt to mold students’ views of halakhic obligation or Jewish philosophy/ideology (some of the teachers are very Zionistic). Their big word (which can become somewhat overplayed) is “non-coercive”.

    All Pardes cares about is Teaching Jews Torah. Most of the Torah they teach comes from a certain range of perspectives, but they’re not out to coerce or kiruvafy their students into following their mold. As long as Jews Learn Torah, Pardes doesn’t try to make them do anything particular with it. As someone there once said unofficially, “Pardes is a case of a mostly-Orthodox faculty creating [what amounts to] a Reconstructionist institution.”


    Steg (dos iz nit der shteg) · September 30th, 2007 at 9:39 am
  13. Barkin wrote: Since when is Jewschool about free advertising for a specific Rab program?

    Jewschool bloggers have very often called attention to events and opportunities that are of interest its readers. Can you explain more about why a weekend to explore a degree program would fall into a no-no category when LimmudNY or Natl Havurah Institute or the other dozens of festivals, institutes, and short and long term learning opportunities don’t.?


    YehuditBrachah · October 1st, 2007 at 11:00 pm
  14. zt wrote: JITW, NHC, etc are indy and will not hire rabbis. these are volunteer driven communities and i think it is a mistake to conflate what Hebrew College is doing and with what those orgs are doing.

    Hm. This was an interesting thread by zt and BZ, but I never mentioned any of the words that you both highlighted as needing to be parsed in my post.

    To clarify, it seems that maybe you and others thought that I was saying that Hebrew College is institutionally doing the same thing as JITW or NHC or others. Which I wasn’t saying. Rather, I was illustrating the actual school’s environment and learning style with reference points people might be able to relate to: HC is pluralistic, open, participatory, low-hierarchical engagement (all are called by first names, sense of equality among staff and students), and committed to making a community among people with disparate Jewish backgrounds and practices.


    YehuditBrachah · October 1st, 2007 at 11:05 pm
  15. Hm. This was an interesting thread by zt and BZ, but I never mentioned any of the words that you both highlighted as needing to be parsed in my post.

    Yeah, I was just going off on a tangent in response to ZT.


    BZ · October 2nd, 2007 at 1:00 pm
  16. As someone there once said unofficially, “Pardes is a case of a mostly-Orthodox faculty creating [what amounts to] a Reconstructionist institution.”

    So the problem is that the Orthodox culture is so pervasive that liberal Jews have to have a LOT of self-confidence about their own authenticity in order to (like Rabbi Akiva) enter Pardes and emerge unscathed. (“Scathed” in this case doesn’t only mean becoming Orthodox, but might also mean defining oneself in relation to contemporary Orthodox Judaism.)

    Of course, this can also be a problem with institutions that ARE nominally pluralistic, and I’d like to see a lot more liberal Jews having this kind of confidence. (Insert standard rant about this being an indispensable precondition for Stage-3 pluralism.)


    BZ · October 4th, 2007 at 12:18 pm

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