The fourth year unveils the special concentration each student selects. During this intensive 6 unit seminar, the student will read through a selection of articles and books providing grounding and orientation for the scholarly study of the field. The class will meet every other week, to provide ample time for the students to successfully complete the reading assignments that will be the bulwark of this advanced seminar. The Conservative Judaism course will integrate the three primary areas in which Conservative Judaism’s worldview and perspective offer a unique and important take on Jewish tradition and faith. Looking at the theological perspectives and insights of the leaders of the Movement, at the theories of law and their application, and at the pervasive impact of ethics, students will have a solid perspective with which to identify and through which they can face the issues confronting the Jewish world today. In order to develop mastery of rabbinics at a higher level, the year four course will offer a chance at synthesis, providing a way of applying their love and mastery of Talmud to teaching it to laypeople. Organized around the 10 – 15 Sugyot that every Conservative rabbi should know, the class sessions will allow each student to teach one of the selected Sugyot to the class as though teaching a group of laypeople. As envisioned, this class will have a Beit Midrash component prior to each class session, during which the members of the class will prepare the Sugya in hevrutot. Finally, the pastoral counseling, Shiur Klali and synagogue skills seminar will continue to direct the gaze of the student toward the concerns and passions of the active rabbinate. In particular, the Synagogue Skills seminar will allow the student to develop mastery over the traditional nusah for weekday, holy day, festival and special occasions.
The second semester of the 4th year will continue to reading seminar, this time allowing the professor the flexibility of deciding whether or not to offer a seminar on a particular text or subject within the field, or to continue more broad reading across the spectrum of the discipline. Building on the Pastoral Counseling series, the student will now work within a hospital setting, under the supervision of a Rabbi/Chaplain. A semester course with the Nonprofit Management program will permit the student a degree of choice in selecting some area of business skill to further hone, and will allow the student to integrate with MBA students who can be a helpful source of advice and guidance throughout the rabbi’s career. Finally, the Life Cycle and Covenant class will help integrate the theological studies of the past four years with the need to handle life cycle ritual and counseling from a perspective of wisdom, compassion, and skill.