In the best of the traditions of Conservative Judaism, this curriculum reflects a commitment to tradition and change. What remains is a reverence for text as the sacred harvest of our people’s encounter with the divine. Mastery of those texts, in the original, remains the sine qua non for today’s rabbis. Equally strong is a passion for Torah and mitzvot, and for a life of sacred deeds shaped and mediated by halakhah. What is new is the explicit attention to the needs of our time: Jews who are largely uneducated in the sources of Judaism nonetheless express a yearning for depth, for spirit, for faith and for a full Jewish life. Translating the Torah heritage from book to life is the key task of today’s rabbi, and this curriculum is therefore designed to equip the rabbinical student for precisely that challenge. By focusing on mahshevet Yisrael, the profound, soul-wrestling contemplations of Israel’s great intellects across the millennia, we hope to unleash that potent blend of heart and mind that has already brought so much light into the world. Simultaneously, to be conversant with the riches of Jewish thought and practice is of no practical utility if the practitioner cannot convey that passion, insight, and beauty to those who would seek to acquire it. The rabbi must not only be learned, but also compelling. That is why the second leg of this curriculum is professional skill and competence.
It is our firm conviction that this approach offers the best hope of training a generation of visionary, literate, and compelling rabbis capable of mediating God’s love and justice through the Jewish people to the world at large.
The curriculum has been designed with a focus on a set of program learning outcomes.
The Ziegler Rabbi:
1. Masters the Masorah – synthetically and technically
2. Connects with lay people and is skilled in outreach
3. Distills the Tradition in ways useful to people’s lives
4. Is motivated by God and shares that faith
5. Loves Jews as well as Judaism
6. Pursues a socially-conscious rabbinate
7. Elicits the theological underpinnings of sacred texts
Year One and Two: Exposure and Empowerment
Ziegler’s opening years introduce a pioneering integration of Hebrew language and textual literacy, building the skills necessary for intimacy with our heritage. This unique approach provides engagement with the foundational texts of Jewish tradition, with courses in Bible (a reading course, Humash with Rashi, Mikraot Gedolot, Nevi’im & Khetuvim), Rabbinics (a reading course, Talmud, History and Halakhah of Liturgy, Talmud with Rashi, Midrash), and Philosophy (Introduction, Theology of Liturgy, Kabbalah & Hasidut), integrated with advancing skills in Hebrew language and grammar. Additionally, our innovative Beit Midrash offers a living laboratory for active engagement with traditional texts in a social setting for shared excellence. Students also study Jewish history and Hebrew language to better access and contextualize Jewish wisdom and experience.
Year Three: Israel Year - Returning to Zion
To be a Jewish exemplar in the 21st Century requires a deep personal engagement with Israel. The Ziegler Israel Year provides a unique and wonderful setting to grapple with the real Israel, to resonate with its achievements, and to learn to share its dream with Jewish communities as a rabbi. Offered through the beloved Conservative Yeshiva, in the heart of Jerusalem, Ziegler students join with their peers from the Frankel College in Germany, to pursue advanced study of Bible, Talmud, Sifrei Psak (Codes), practical halakhah, Midrash, and, of course, more advanced work in Hebrew language. Extensive exposure to Israeli thought, history, and its diverse communities enriches this unique year of learning, travel, and growth.
Year Four and Five: Synthesis and Culmination
The final two years pivot to provide professional competence, enhanced leadership skills, and capstone learning opportunities. Training for the practical side of the rabbinate comes through courses in pastoral counseling, lifecycles, synagogue skills, hospital chaplaincy, senior seminar, and homiletics. Culminating classes include Conservative Judaism, Talmud synthesis, Mishnah, Torah anthologies, and Social Justice. Synthesizing the years of study and growth are thematic seminars, issues of modernity, teaching rabbinic texts, creating sacred community, and text as spiritual mentor. Students also get to take a course in our renowned School of Jewish Education and a management course in our School of Enterprise Management and Social Impact. All of this makes possible a rabbinate of profound faith, learning, service, observance, and innovation.
Graduates of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies receive rabbinic ordination after 10-12 semesters of study normally completed in five or six years. Since text and language skills vary based on background and progress, each student's program is determined in consultation with the Dean's office. Upon completion of the program, students are granted a Master’s Degree in Rabbinic Studies. Students normally complete all requirements at the Ziegler School’s campus in Los Angeles, unless they are exempt from specific courses based on previous academic coursework.
Rabbinic ordination is awarded at the completion of the entire program. The master’s degree is awarded at the University’s Annual Commencement Exercises in May. Ordination is conferred at a separate ceremony, which will typically take place the day after graduation. Ordination is not conferred in absentia. Students must be present at the ceremony to receive their degree.
Additional Program Options:
The Ziegler School is committed to training rabbis who are equipped to lead North American Jewish life into the 21st century. We understand that for rabbinic students to graduate with the necessary vision, skills and passion to make profound changes in the Jewish community, they need to have extensive hands-on experience in a variety of Jewish institutions. The staff and faculty of the Ziegler School work closely with rabbis and other Jewish professionals in the Los Angeles area and beyond to build relationships between the Ziegler School and other Jewish institutional settings. In the first two years of the Ziegler program, students are introduced to Hillel, congregational settings, Federations and educational institutions. Students in their final year will select an institutional setting that dovetails with their professional plans and interests.
Training in Europe
Together with the Leo Baeck Foundation, the Ziegler school has taken our mission to Europe and ensure that Jewish congregations there will receive the rabbinic leadership necessary to foster Jewish renaissance. We are joined in this endeavor with Potsdam University’s School of Jewish theology.
The Zacharias Frankel College was conceived to train a new generation of Masorti/Conservative rabbis to address the spriritual needs of a growing European Jewry. Ours is an era in which Jews are asking “Why be Jewish?” with greater urgency than ever before.
As a Masorti/Conservative rabbinical school, the Zacharias Frankel College is dedicated to the philosophy, principles and values as inspired by Louis Jacobs, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Mordecai Kaplan, David Lieber, and other great modern visionaries. It builds on thinking of positive historic Judaism and German founding fathers such as Leo Baeck and Zacharias Frankel.
To learn more, please visit: http://zacharias-frankel-college.de/
The Ziegler School participates in two joint degree programs. Students may also earn a Master of Arts degree in Education through the Graduate Center for Jewish Education or a Master of Business Administration through the School of Enterprise Management and Social Impact (SEMSI). Students must complete the requirements for each degree in which they participate. Interested students should consult each of these programs for more information.
Rabbinical applicants who also wish to earn the M.A.Ed. degree and/or M.B.A degree must apply separately to each respective program.