Reconstructionist rabbis lead today’s communities and serve as primary guides through Jewish tradition, teachings and sacred texts. Rabbis bring their passion to prayer and teaching, and to training both children and adults as b’nei mitzvah and lay leaders.
To do this work, rabbis need strong Hebrew skills. We help students cultivate literacy in the main texts of Jewish tradition, all of which can engage their intellect and spirit: Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, Zohar and Hasidut. Our program of study is challenging. The work is intense, exciting and rewarding. Solid Hebrew skills enable students to thrive in these classes and succeed as rabbis serving the Jewish communities of today.
Hebrew language requirement for admission
In order to matriculate, admitted students must demonstrate Hebrew proficiency equivalent to one year of successful, college-level Hebrew study. We determine proficiency through a placement exam administered in conjunction with your admissions interview. Students whose Hebrew is not yet strong enough may still be admitted, with they expectation that they demonstrate needed Hebrew proficiency prior to matriculation.
Why study Modern Hebrew?
At the beginning levels, the similarities between Modern and Biblical Hebrew are far greater than the differences, certainly regarding vocabulary and the basics of grammar. Facility in Modern Hebrew facilitates a more organic engagement both with the ancient texts and with new literature emerging from Israel, which, ultimately, will enrich your rabbinate. It also enables you to think in the language, which positions you to better understand the people and civilization that created the texts you read.
What should I look for in a Hebrew program to prepare?
The short answer: The more time you can spend in a classroom, the better. Studying at an ulpan in Israel (an intensive immersion program) — run either by a university or a municipality — can be a very effective way to study Hebrew. We recommend you check out MASA, an organization that offers generous grants for intensive Hebrew study in Israel. Every eligible candidate receives a grant. MASA Israel will also provide information on appropriate third-party scholarships that may further reduce your ulpan tuition. Intensive Hebrew-language immersion programs are available in the United States, but they’re limited.
The following activities are recommended to supplement classroom language study:
- taking a class at a local university or online
- engaging a private tutor
- working on your own through a book or program (with the supervision of a teacher or other expert)
- spending time in Israel in a Hebrew-speaking environment
- engaging in Hebrew-only conversation with fluent or native speakers
- reading the weekly parshah and attending Hebrew-language services on Shabbat and holidays.
To talk about the options for Hebrew language study that are best for you, reach out to Rabbi Melissa Heller, Director of Admissions and Recruitment, at 215.576.0800 ext. 123 or MHeller@RRC.edu.
Behatzlakhah! Good luck!