The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies is proud to announce a revolutionary new approach to rabbinic education in North America, responsive to the changing needs of the Jewish community, and offering a program that is accessible, streamlined, and laser-focused on training the rabbinic skills today’s Jewish community demands.
The Ziegler School has created a boldly integrated curriculum, shortened the length of the program, added a year of Residency, and designed an intensive Israel program, while also creating a transparent tuition structure. We believe these interlocked innovations will lead to rabbis trained in with fluency in Judaism’s texts and ideas. Rabbis must also be trained to serve other purposes: to provide access to the spiritual wealth and deep wisdom of Judaism and to help apply that wisdom toward making their lives and communities better. Providing sustained attention to the place of Israel (the Land, the peoples, the State) in Jewish sources, history, and identity is also as crucial as it has ever been, demanding a thorough rethinking of what rabbinic training there should entail.
The new Ziegler curriculum includes changes in the following areas:
To give everyone access to a great rabbinic education, the Ziegler School has already set tuition at $7,000 per year. Scholarships, needed now more than ever, will be directed to the School so it can continue to fund its students’ learning as the actual cost of education continues to rise.
Responding to the challenges facing rabbinic education today, the Ziegler School has now created a new four year curriculum that will allow students to finish much sooner than the traditional 5-6 years. We remain committed to in person learning as the only way to foster religious formation and spiritual discipline, to experience the rhythm of life in an observant Jewish community and benefit from being part of a fellowship that takes mitzvah observance and halakhah seriously. For these reasons, the first three years of the program will remain in person, in Los Angeles. The fourth year will be devoted primarily to professional training in residence, as will be explained below
An Education for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Community
To accommodate a more accelerated and concentrated curriculum, the Ziegler School has now decided to offer courses we believe will train rabbis able to discern and teach the significance of Jewish scripture (Bible, Rabbinics, Philosophy, Kabbalah, etc.) to distill its message in ways that will allow people to better thrive and will allow communities to express authentic Jewish values of welcome, companionship, and holiness. This required a thorough and disciplined review of all courses with a strict eye to what contemporary communities expect of their rabbis. The School was disciplined in streamlining the program by removing courses no longer held to be essential or mandatory without sacrificing textual competence, Hebrew language, broad knowledge of Jewish Thought, and the practice and teaching of mitzvot. Some courses were streamlined and some were shifted to intersemester intensives.
Innovative Approach to Hebrew
The foundation of Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies curriculum is geared toward mastering classical texts written in both biblical Hebrew and “Leshon Hazal,” also known as rabbinic Hebrew. Already adopted and implemented with great success, the first two years of the program are dedicated to giving students sufficient background and competency in classical biblical and rabbinic texts, engaging with them as the primary models for reading and comprehension. By doing so, students will progress more rapidly in both the understanding of Hebrew grammar and its development, will dramatically expand their Hebrew vocabulary, and will build a solid foundation for Hebrew learning that will accompany them for the duration of their studies and into their rabbinic work. This approach also allows for a symbiotic connection between Hebrew language class and what is learned in Bible and Rabbinics classes, allowing more rapid progress in text classes too.
Pioneering Integration of Rabbinics
The study of Rabbinics continues to be a fundamental part of the training for Ziegler rabbis. While the category of Rabbinics includes different bodies of literature (Mishnah, Talmud, Codes, Responsa, Parshanut) currently, the majority of the rabbinic text courses in the Ziegler School are focused on the study of Talmud. Other courses (Midrash, Mishnah, etc.) are separate and, at times, treated as completely distinct from any sense of an integrated and comprehensive Rabbinics project. The new and innovative Ziegler School curriculum focuses on a reorientation of the rabbinic text curriculum with an emphasis on achieving a greater integration of rabbinic thought, textual integration, and methodology. Courses in rabbinics will be less divided by genre; rather, material will be introduced by ideas and themes from within the collective body of rabbinic literature, giving students a broader appreciation of the sweep of Judaism’s wisdom, insight, and applicability.
Extensive Professional Skills Preparation
While streamlined, the Ziegler curriculum will continue to provide focused exploration in the expertise needed by rabbis to sustain and nurture the people and the institutions they serve. In class, in internships, and in the residency year, students will develop skills in homiletics, chaplaincy, professional development and identity, as well as the habits necessary to manage staff, donors, members, and institutions; and the tefillah expertise to lead services and chant Torah, Haftarot and Megillot, pastoral counseling, social action and community organizing, and practical rabbinics.
Israel Programing Laser Focused on the Land, Language and People of Israel:
The model for many Year-In-Israel programs is for students to spend the preponderance of their time in Yeshiva/Seminary rooms learning the same classical texts they would be studying in America (often taught by American or English immigrants). The Ziegler School will create a more concentrated program in which the learning and activities are focused intensively on Israel. In close consultation with the Honey Foundation and with our educational and rabbinic partners in Israel, the Ziegler School will offer a two month summer intensive in Israel. This program presumes that Ziegler students have been to Israel already, and that they will continue to find ways to spend time there in the future. For that reason, the Ziegler intensive can condense the time while diving deep in three distinct areas: (1) contemporary Hebrew, (2) Israel Seminar exploring the modern state of Israel, its diverse communities, cultural, political and social challenges and opportunities, and (3) Biblical and Rabbinic texts especially pertinent to the Land of Israel.
Just as medical education concentrates the classroom experience to the first years of school and culminates in residencies that place medical students in hospitals where they can learn by doing, so will the Ziegler School frontload the in-person coursework during its first three years and reserve the fourth year as a rabbinic residency off campus in a congregation, school, camp, medical, mental health, or penal facility, agency, or some entrepreneurial rabbinic effort. The Residency is not just a job. The Ziegler School will establish specific expectations of experiences, mentoring, and professional development with rabbis already experienced in those areas. While the students focus on what can be learned only through practical experience, their growth will be augmented by a few online courses that allow them to reflect critically on their and their classmates’ experiences in a professional setting. These residencies will allow students to live anywhere for their final Ziegler year.