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.