The ALEPH Rabbinic Program trains rabbis to be community builders, teachers, spiritual leaders and artists of Jewish tradition. The rigorous curriculum engages our dynamic faculty and student body in a full spectrum of rabbinic learning and practice.
Our faculty includes rabbis and educators known for their scholarship, spiritual depth, passion, and creativity who teach the 50-plus semester-length courses and residential retreats that are at the center of the program of study. Students in this program are called upon to master Jewish text and traditional modalities of learning and prayer, and to engage their creativity in the exploration of new ritual, art, music, and prayer experiences. ALEPH students are expected to demonstrate a high-level of Jewish literacy and personal integrity, textual skills and interpersonal skills, and to demonstrate a capacity to work with individuals and groups in a way that models a life path of personal growth and self-awareness. Rabbis completing this program will be empowered and compassionate Jewish teachers and leaders, artists, healers, and spiritual guides.
Individualized learning with a DOS — Director of Studies
Each ALEPH student designs a yearly learning plan under the direct supervision of his or her Director of Studies and the overall supervision of the Academic VAAD. Because not all learning is necessarily in the format of a formal academic course, we employ the term “units” of study with the understanding that a “unit” is the academic or practical equivalent to a semester-length graduate seminar or practicum. The curriculum itself blends a variety of modalities of learning, including our own retreats, seminars and video-conference courses, with other distance-learning programs as well as courses taken in universities, colleges, synagogues, and seminaries, under the supervision of each student’s Director of Studies. All Directors of Studies are members of the ALEPH Ordination Program’s Academic VAAD.
The ALEPH Rabbinic Program curriculum requires a minimum of 60 units of study spanning an array of subjects and disciplines, representing the equivalent of five years of full-time graduate level study, including both academic coursework and the full range of experiences that prepare an individual for spiritual leadership. The combination of a student’s academic coursework, practica, seminars, and meetings should be the equivalent of 15 semesters of study, including summers.
The ALEPH Rabbinic Program’s academic requirements are comparably rigorous as those of any respected liberal seminary, even as each seminary understandably structures its curriculum to reflect its unique philosophy, emphasizing the style of learning and the content it values most.
Course Distribution Requirements
All coursework is expected to be graduate level. The chart below indicates the expected structure of a student's learning program listing the minimum required units / courses per area of study. Coursework is distributed across seven areas of learning in order to ensure a relatively common basis of learning, knowledge and textual proficiency among rabbis trained in the ALEPH Ordination Program.
- Units / Courses Required Subject
- 8 TaNaCH
- 6 Rabbinic/Halachic Literature
- 4 Liturgy
- 6 Kabbalah and Hasidut
- 5 Jewish Thought/Philosophy/Theology
- 5 History
- 26 Kli Kodesh as Eved HaShem includes these practical rabbinics requirements; education; spiritual direction; pastoral counseling; world religions; new cosmology, etc.
Applying to the ALEPH Rabbinic Program
- If you are not yet active in a community or havurah involved with Jewish Renewal, you will want to find out if there is one near you. There are about 50 such groups, many also affiliated with one of the denominations of American Judaism.
- If there is no Renewal-oriented community near you, we invite your participation in other ways. You can get involved in an ALEPH project and you can participate in retreats, workshops, and classes offered by ALEPH, such as the Kallah and Ruach HaAretz, and by other centers such as Elat Chayyim. Attendance at special events sponsored by ALEPH, as well as other Renewal-oriented, rabbis and teachers is also encouraged.
- All applicants to the ALEPH Rabbinic Program are Chai-level members of ALEPH. A Chai member makes at least an $18/month commitment totaling $216/year. This Chai commitment is undertaken as a permanent commitment on the part of each student and musmach. To become a Chai member visit our donation page.
The application process for the ALEPH program is unlike the application process common in most academic institutions.
The formal written application procedure includes submitting documentation of prior learning and degrees, letters of recommendation, a spiritual autobiography, a Hebrew diagnostic, and a proposed first-year learning plan. However, central to our application process is a period of mutual discernment in which our VAAD, teachers, and students come to know you. At the same time, this period of discernment enables you to consider whether this hevra, this process, and our Renewal-style Jewish community is right for you. By studying together and davvenen’ together, by being with you on retreats, in classes, in shul, in hevruta, and by conversing and counseling with you over the course of your preparation, we come to a generally mutual decision that you and this program are a good fit, and that you indeed have the skills and resources necessary to succeed.
Because of the decentralized nature of this program, in which students and mentors may live on different continents, we promote a protracted admission process that enables our core faculty and VAAD members to meet with you in different contexts and environments over the course of your preparation. An applicant who is accepted is often already well-integrated into the program at the time his or her acceptance is made formal.
A packet with application materials, as well as detailed information about the program, may be obtained after an initial email exchange with the Director of the Rabbinic Program, Rabbi Marcia Prager. If you're interested in obtaining this packet, please contact the ALEPH Ordination Program Administrator at (215) 247-9700 x21, firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a $25 application fee payable before receiving the info/application packet.
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