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Advice about Rabbinical School

Hi everyone,

First post on this subreddit, hoping for someone to provide some perspective and opinion (opinions from strangers on the internet is always a good idea, right??)

I’m considering entering rabbinical school in the coming years (within 5 years maybe?) and have some questions that I’m hoping someone here can answer.

But first, a bit about me: I graduated college last year with a degree in Time and Space, and am currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, pursuing a degree in Jewish education. I live in Israel right now, and being here has really changed the way I want to practice and incorporate Judaism in my life. I was raised in a reform synagogue, and after my bar mitzvah until my second year in college, I didn’t really think about the fact that I am Jewish. Although I really don’t like the denominational labels because I see them as nothing but divisive, I want my life to be something close to a Modern Orthodox one: shomer shabbat, kashrut, halakhically observant, intellectually curious, etc. In about a month, I’ll be attending Aish HaTorah’s Foundations program to (hopefully) begin to fill in the (many) gaps that my reform upbringing has left unfilled between where I stand right now, and where I want my Judaism to be.

Some aspirational / career goals for me: I intend on my career being in the Jewish world. I see myself as a Jewish communal leader in some capacity. I love to read, I love to write, I love to learn, I love to teach, I love to work with and help people, I love Hebrew, I love public speaking, I love Judaism, and I love Jews. To me, that seems like the perfect confluence of loves that points me towards rabbinical school.

If I was to become a Rabbi: I would want to work, as I said above, in a leadership position at some Jewish communal organization. A synagogue, a summer camp, a federation, a Hillel / campus org, etc. I would want to focus my work on inter (intra?) denominational outreach, i.e. trying to bridge the gaps (not theologically, but socially) between the various denominations of Jews. I see no reasons for Reform Jews to have such vitriolic disgust, that I have seen, towards Orthodox Jews, and I see no reason for Orthodox Jews to see Reform Jews as heretics. At the end of the day, we’re all Jews, we exist in this historical moment in which it is increasingly dangerous to be a Jew regardless of level and type of observance, and we need to stand by each other.

Rabbinical Training: As above, I am drawn to the Modern Orthodox stream of Judaism, mainly due to the level of observance I see within those communities. I want my Judaism to be a daily, meaningful practice in my life, and I see that most often within the Orthodox world. The school that attracts me the most right now is Yeshivat Chovevi Torah (YCT) in NYC, but I’ve not made any sort of commitments (again becoming a rabbi is not a right now decision for me, but in a couple of years I’ll be seriously considering it).

Questions / Thoughts I hope someone can respond to:

  • Is YCT a good school? Why or why not?
    • What does it cost? I’ve seen on various websites that it is free, and they provide a living stipend. Is that true?
    • Do their graduates tend to succeed, or not? What kind of work do they do?
    • Other options for schools?
  • Is becoming a rabbi a good idea? Meaning: is there a good outlook in the job market right now?
    • Is it something that will be financially worth my effort?
    • I know that YCT has trouble with the RCA/OU, is that something that I should be seriously worried about, employment wise?
  • Based on what I wrote about myself above, what sorts of questions should I be asking myself to know if this is the right idea for me?
  • If you think becoming a rabbi is not the right idea, what other alternatives do you see as being viable, based on what I wrote above?
  • Other thoughts and ideas are welcome! Thanks for lending me your ears (eyes?) for this moment 🙂

Shavua Tov

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