The journey to joining the AJR community begins with our Dean of Admissions, Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor, who serves as guide and mentor for all applicants. Anyone interested in applying should start by speaking with Lisa. Applicants who have spoken with Lisa will be invited to sit in on AJR classes and meet with students, faculty, and staff at an AJR Open House. AJR’s community is unique, warm, and inclusive, and we would love for you to get a taste of what you can experience and achieve with us!

Before You Apply

Those who are considering applying to an ordination program should be seriously and actively involved in both Jewish study and Jewish living. Many already have some leadership experience in the Jewish community. You may have assisted in leading services or have experience teaching in a congregation or havurah. You may have served in a volunteer capacity on a committee or board of a synagogue or some other Jewish organization. You may have studied in a local Jewish adult-learning setting. Our ordination students come from a wide range of backgrounds but all share a passion for Jewish leadership.

Our Master’s Degree program is open to anyone with a prior Bachelor’s Degree seeking to deepen their knowledge of Judaism. The application for the Master’s Program can be found here.

“I’d heard wonderful stories about AJR’s embrace of mid-career students like me. I am now living that embrace every day – not just in the flexibility of course-scheduling to accommodate our outside jobs and lives, but in the unique community AJR is.”
– Rabbi Stephen Axinn (’22)

Rabbi Stephen Axinn

The Application Process

Applicants from all walks of Jewish life have a home at AJR where we are committed to pluralistic Jewish education.

If proceeding with a formal application is the appropriate next step, you will receive an application packet and guidance on completing the application. If you are not invited to apply, you may be offered suggested steps to undertake in order to prepare for future review. Further details regarding the application process will be available in the application packet. Preparation of all required materials is the responsibility of the applicant. We ask that the full application be submitted only once all required materials have been assembled. 

Proficiency in Hebrew, as well as familiarity with basic Jewish texts and practice, is essential to serious Jewish study. Before beginning your studies at AJR we will ask you to complete a portion of our Hebrew Placement Test to assess your current level of Hebrew. For people who do not have significant prior Hebrew knowledge we highly encourage you to begin your Hebrew studies as soon as possible. For those applicants with minimal Hebrew background, we offer a Mechina Hebrew Program that allows students to build up their Hebrew from the basics. We may ask those applicants who come to AJR with very limited background in general Jewish knowledge to complete a Jewish Studies Proficiency Test to assess whether our Mechina (Preparatory) Program in Jewish Studies is the most appropriate place to begin.

Three essays are required. There are two options for how to present the essays. They can be presented in writing—typed, double-spaced, no longer than ten pages total —or they can be presented orally to two members of the admission committee on a date in advance of the interview date. Please share your preference with the Dean of Admissions prior to submitting your application.

Every applicant to an ordination program is required to be interviewed by an AJR-approved psychotherapist. A confidential report of this interview is sent to the Admissions Committee. This interview is designed to provide information on the suitability of the candidate for undertaking rabbinic or cantorial studies. This report is confidential and will be available only to members of the Admissions Committee and senior administrative staff. Applicants are asked to sign a waiver of right of access to the psychosocial report.

The Admissions Committee is charged with making all decisions concerning a prospective student’s admission to AJR. The Committee is composed of senior administrators, faculty members, and alumni. The interview for rabbinic applicants includes the presentation of a D’var Torah of eight to ten minutes duration.

The interview for cantorial applicants includes a musical audition. Each candidate should prepare four or five pieces, from which the Committee will select two or three for performance. The selections should acquaint the Committee with the full range of vocal and interpretive abilities; at least three pieces should be drawn from the Jewish repertoire, one representing traditional cantorial style and one more informal.

Applicants are usually informed of the Committee’s decision within one week of the interview. An application may be accepted with or without certain conditions. If an application is rejected, guidance may be given concerning the interval that should elapse before a re-application would be considered. Acceptance to AJR is valid until the beginning of the trimester following the anniversary of the interview date.

Full details and explanation of all matters concerning application to AJR are contained within the application packet, and the Dean of Admissions will be glad to offer general guidance and to respond to any questions.