Our Approach to Rabbinical Formation

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At the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, we train rabbis to bring the wealth of Jewish tradition to help contemporary Jews and communities make meaning of their lives, draw closer to the sacred, and work toward a more peaceful and just world. Rooted in nourishing Jewish learning and intensive fieldwork-based education, the RRC curriculum prepares students to serve, to teach and to lead.

The program is distinguished by the unique Reconstructionist understanding of Judaism as a dynamic civilization characterized by constant diversity and ongoing change. As a result, the RRC curriculum is expansive, dynamic and flexible, engaging students both in and out of the classroom.

Our program cultivates skills and knowledge that will allow students to be:

  • vessels of Torah who are deeply rooted in Judaism’s rich textual legacy and are able to share that legacy with others in ways that enrich their lives with meaning;
  • sh’likhei tzibur (ritual leaders) who lead communities in meaningful and inspiring prayer and ritual as they move through the rhythms of the year and of their individual lives;
  • self-aware models of strength and kindness whose actions and leadership model the value that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God). The curriculum cultivates students’ interpersonal skills and their growth in the middot (virtues and behaviors) that allow people to live up to this central and demanding Jewish value;
  • effective and socially aware leaders who serve in all the settings in which Jews seek meaning and community, and who work for greater justice in the Jewish world and beyond. In order to train students for leadership roles in synagogues, nonprofit organizations and educational settings, the curriculum includes training and internship experiences that develop entrepreneurial, financial and organizational skills;
  • healing and helpful pastoral caregivers who will accompany people in times of both joy and sadness. At RRC, students learn from leaders in the fields of pastoral and spiritual care, and are supported by teachers, mentors and colleagues as they develop the inner resources that will allow them to support others in their times of need.
Joel Hecker, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Mysticism, describes what inspires him about being in community at RRC.  

Throughout the program, students develop knowledge and skills through engaging seminar classes and beit midrash-style learning that explore Jewish texts, history and thought. Through practical rabbinics courses and our unique field education program, students learn how to be effective and ethical leaders, and develop pastoral counseling, ritual leadership, community organizing and education skills. Rounding out the program is a broad range of co-curricular programs, immersive retreats and opportunities for learning outside of RRC.

Students are encouraged to use their years with us to develop spiritual maturity, to build moral character and to cultivate interpersonal skills. Future rabbis have the option to participate in RRC’s innovative Spiritual Direction program and explore the practice of mussar (Jewish ethical teachings).

Opportunities for communal worship and religious expression abound in and around the College community, enriched by the diverse liturgical styles and religious practices of students and faculty. Hevrutah (partnered study) encourages the development of fruitful relationships with classmates. Each student works closely with an academic advisor to customize a learning plan. The advising relationship is meant to allow each student to discover the religious leader they can become.

Our commitment to egalitarianism, inclusiveness and participatory decision-making shape our approach to rabbinic training. We teach students how to listen, how to let people be heard and how to involve them in shaping the policies and ritual life of their communities. By encouraging and sustaining its own diverse and inclusive community, the College enables students to explore and appreciate a variety of Jewish identities and expressions. Our approach equips graduates to see the holiness in those they will come to serve, and be open to the varieties of contemporary Jewish expressions and identities.

We recognize that many students come to RRC with significant prior academic and work experience. Students who enter with more extensive knowledge of Jewish studies, or greater experience in ritual or organizational leadership and/or pastoral care, may modify or accelerate their program to meet their individual needs.

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network