AJR rabbis build communities.

AJR’s Rabbinical School Program trains future leaders of the Jewish people who have deep learning in texts and tradition, an appreciation for the historical forces that have shaped our people, and a love for the Jewish people. The rabbinate involves service as much as leadership, and the rabbi ordained by AJR will have developed the professional skills to serve with insight and compassion, with wisdom and understanding.

Aviv Siegel

“When I finished my first day of classes at AJR I went to see my wife and share with her the wonderful experience. As she saw me she said ‘You are glowing! I think you found Your People …’”
-Aviv Siegel, Rabbinical Student

  1. Students will demonstrate recognition of the legitimacy of multiple points of view and approaches, both historically in the Jewish tradition and in the interplay of contemporary Jewish movements and schools of thought.
  2. Students will demonstrate competence in Jewish texts, history, and culture. This encompasses competence in traditional and academic approaches to reading and interpreting biblical, rabbinic, liturgical, and philosophical texts. Students will demonstrate competence in reading and comprehending ancient, medieval, and modern texts in their original languages of Hebrew and Aramaic.
  3. Students will demonstrate competence in the professional and pastoral aspects of their clerical roles. This encompasses core knowledge of counseling, education, the role of music in Jewish liturgical chanting (nusah and trope), and the skills to officiate at worship services and life-cycle events.
  4. Students will demonstrate knowledge of contemporary American, Israeli and world-wide Jewish communities–including the roles of the rabbi and the cantor–and a range of skills to creatively address long-standing issues as well as the most recent developments.
  5. Students will demonstrate engagement in the development of their identity as spiritual leaders and spiritual seekers in the Jewish community.

Below is an overview of some details of the Rabbinical Program. A full explanation can be found in the Academic Catalog.

Course Requirements

A total of 140 credits plus 4 trimesters of Fieldwork Support Seminar and 4 trimesters of Core Concepts Seminar are required (Master’s of Jewish Studies included).

Students can choose the pace at which they are comfortable studying. Those who want to study full-time all year round can finish the program in three years (provided they enter with a high level of Hebrew). Others will choose to study at a more measured pace, finishing the program in five years or longer, when completed through part-time study.

Bible (14 credits)
Introduction to Bible
Introduction to Parshanut
Parashat Hashavua
Leadership in the Bible/ Nevi’im Rishonim
Electives (6 credits)

Hebrew (27 credits)
Hebrew I (2 trimesters, 4 credits each)
Hebrew II (2 trimesters, 4 credits each)
Hebrew III (2 trimesters, 4 credits each)
Biblical Hebrew
Hebrew Phonetics and Morphology (1 credit)

History (8 credits)
Great Ideas and Debates of Jewish History I
Great Ideas and Debates of Jewish History II
American Jewish History, Society, and Culture*
Israeli History, Society, and Culture

Liturgy (11 credits)
Introduction to Liturgy
Shabbat Liturgy
Festival Liturgy
Yamim Noraim Liturgy
Tefillah and Seminar (with multiple courses totaling 3 credits)

Philosophy (11 credits)
Medieval Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Personal Theology
Mysticism Elective
Bio-Ethics (1 credit)

Professional Skills (22 credits)
Pastoral Counseling I
Pastoral Counseling II
Homiletics (1 credit)
Education (2 trimesters, 2 credits each)
Life Cycle I
Life Cycle II
Conversion (1 credit)
Chaplaincy (1 credit)
Fieldwork Support Seminar (4 trimesters, 0 credits)
Core Concepts Seminar (4 trimesters, 0 credits)
Entrepreneurship and Community Planting (with multiple courses totaling 4 credits)
Science and Judaism
Difficult Conversations (1 credit)

Rabbinics/Halakha (30 credits)
Introduction to Mishna
Introduction to Talmud (2 trimesters, 2 credits each)
Intermediate Talmud (2 trimesters, 2 credits each)
Advanced Talmud (2 trimesters, 2 credits each)
Midrash I
Midrash II
Introduction to Codes (2 trimesters, 2 credits each)
Intermediate Codes
Advanced Codes
Introduction to Responsa
Critical Issues (Halakhah)

Spirituality (6 credits)
Architecture of Ritual
Sacred Arts
Spirituality Elective

Electives (11 credits)

TOTAL: 140 credits

*Note that students living outside of the United States may take a comparable course in the Jewish History and Culture of their country instead of American Jewish History, Society, and Culture.

Comprehensive Examinations

All rabbinical students must pass a series of Comprehensive Examinations: one in Hebrew, one in Bible, one in Talmud, and one in Codes. These examinations are designed to measure the student’s mastery of basic information and ability to work with the classical primary sources of Jewish scholarship. Details of each Comprehensive Examination are to be found in the Academic Catalog. All the examinations must be completed before the beginning of the fall trimester of the student’s senior year.

“I expected AJR’s comprehensive curriculum to be challenging. What I didn’t expect was that its pluralistic emphasis would force me to rethink answers I once took for granted. AJR has pushed me to think deeply about the important questions of identity, connection, education and practice that any Jewish leader must be prepared to address.”
– Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11), Board Chair Emeritus

Bruce Alpert

Ritual Skills

The Academy admits students with varying levels of ritual proficiency. During their years of study, students will acquire crucial liturgical skills. These include leading the various services of the Jewish year and the appropriate cantillations of various biblical texts. Students entering a rabbinate open to all streams of Jewish life must be proficient in a wide array of these skills. Students will be required to demonstrate their competence in Ritual Skills by oral examination. No Advanced Standing may be earned by rabbinical students in the area of Ritual Skills. For a list of the required Ritual Skills, see here.

Master’s Degree

All students in AJR’s regular Rabbinic ordination track (i.e., not Cantors to Rabbis) who have not already earned a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies (or a related field) for which they wrote a thesis or completed a Master’s Project are required to complete AJR’s Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. The required credits for AJR’s Master’s Degree are built into the curriculum of the regular Rabbinic ordination track and AJR will continue to transfer credits from all prior graduate level work to fulfill AJR course requirements as applicable. Thus, the Master’s Project is the only additional element required to earn AJR’s Master’s Degree beyond the 140 credits that are part of the regular Rabbinic Program + MA curriculum. Details about the Master’s Project can be found in the Academic Catalog.