FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in attending the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. What should I do next?
What qualities do you look for in prospective students?

How do I apply?

After I am accepted, what should I do to prepare for rabbinical school?

Describe the curriculum.

How does being a pluralistic institution impact learning at Hebrew College?

Since Hebrew College is not affiliated with a particular denomination, what types of jobs do graduates get?

What mentorship opportunities does Hebrew College offer?

How will I grow professionally?

How will Hebrew College support my spiritual growth?

As a pluralistic school, how do you pray together?

How do you determine if new students should start in Mekorot or Shanah Aleph?

Where do students live?

What is Shabbos life like at Hebrew College?

How do I pay for rabbinical school?

 

I am interested in attending the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. What should I do next?
The first thing is to contact Rabbi Daniel Klein, director of admissions, to arrange a time to speak. We also recommend you visit campus when classes are in session; this is one of the best ways to get a sense of whether or not Hebrew College is a good fit for you. We hold prospective-student events every semester. If you are not able to attend one of these, Rabbi Klein can arrange another time for you to visit, sit in on classes and meet with students and faculty.

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What qualities do you look for in prospective students?
The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College looks for students who have an unquenchable thirst to learn from the wisdom of Jewish tradition; a drive to fashion an authentic personal relationship to Judaism; a passion to engage with people, practices and ideas from across the Jewish spectrum; and a commitment to serve the Jewish people.

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How do I apply?
After you spend time getting to know us and you want to apply, you can do so through our online application.

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After I am accepted, what should I do to prepare for rabbinical school?
The learning and preparation you do prior to rabbinical school is an essential part of your path to the rabbinate. It is a time to deepen your Jewish knowledge and practice. We expect our students to be in an ever-deepening relationship with the core aspects of Jewish life:

  • Ahavat Hashem: Engaging God, theology and Jewish practice
  • Ahavat Torah: Engaging Torah study
  • Ahavat Israel: Engaging the Jewish people and culture in North America, Israel and around the world

If you are thinking of applying, ask yourself how you can grow. How can you deepen your relationship to God and prayer, Torah study and the Jewish people? One practical suggestion we offer is to let the Jewish calendar be your guide. Live the rhythms of Judaism, learning about and observing each holiday as they arise in the calendar. Be “shomer shabbos,” broadly understood, by making Shabbat a significant part of your life. Study the “parasha” on a weekly basis, perhaps looking at commentaries to help you find more meaning. The key is to progress on your path of religious and spiritual growth. You can find more ideas and suggestions for how to prepare for rabbinical school here

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Describe the curriculum.
Our innovative thematic curriculum combines the best elements of the university and the yeshiva, enabling students to examine the sources of Judaism both in historical context and from a personal religious perspective. Students engage questions of critical scholarship as well as those of meaning and relevance. Academic courses are supplemented by intensive daily preparation in the bet midrash, where students spend time in intensive “hevruta” study with faculty supervision. 

The core curriculum is built around the two most famous cycles of traditional Jewish learning: Parshiyyot ha-Torah and Seder ha-SHaS. The Jewish Living Core follows the order of “hamishah humshei Torah” and, with some adaptation, the order of subjects in the Babylonian Talmud, covering the major areas of Jewish learning central to a text-based rabbinic education.

Torah study, including a range of commentaries from ancient Midrash to contemporary literary analysis, links the five books of the Torah to the five-year course of study. Talmud study, covering tractates from five of the six orders of the Mishnah, is linked to a parallel study of “halakhah.” Students in Shanah Aleph (Year I) study tractate Berakhot, the first tractate of the Talmud. Shanah Bet (II), Gimel (III) and Dalet (IV) move together through a cycle of the orders Mo’ed, Nashim and Nezikin, where Talmud and halakhah classes are grouped by level from multiple class cohorts. Shanah Heh (Year V) presents the opportunity for an advanced Talmud elective.

Several other courses are offered each year that relate to the theme of a Jewish Living Core course, including Jewish thought classes, offering an integrated, thematic curriculum. These, too, may require bet midrash preparation. Students also have a series of professional-development courses, culminating in the final two years of the program, when they can specialize in an area of Jewish learning or professional rabbinic development. (see How will I grow professionally?)

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How does being a pluralistic institution impact learning at Hebrew College?
As a pluralistic school, we do not have prescriptions for how you should live as a Jew. Rather, we support each other in a search for an honest and authentic engagement with Jewish tradition. We have chosen to put engagement with sacred text as a core part of this journey. Students spend much of their time in the bet midrash with a hevrutah (study partner), learning classical and modern texts. Our aim is to learn the text in context and on its own terms as well as ask questions of personal meaning and relevance.

For example, in a class on “hilchot Shabbat” (laws of Shabbat) students learn about classical concepts of Shabbat in the Torah and Talmud and the codification of practices in “halachic” codes. We then ask questions about how to engage with these forms today. Sitting at the table will be people who practice a traditional conception of Shmirat Shabbat as well as those with a liberal understanding of how to keep Shabbat. The class becomes an opportunity to encounter different approaches to Jewish tradition and seek out our own place in it as we also support and challenge classmates to do the same.

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Since Hebrew College is not affiliated with a particular denomination, what types of jobs do graduates get?
Our graduates serve as congregational rabbis in affiliated Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform congregations as well as independent congregations. They also work as Hillel rabbis and executive directors, hospital chaplains and organizational innovators in institutions across the country. We have had extraordinary success with placement; fully 95 percent of our 65 graduates are working as rabbis. Approximately half work in Massachusetts and the rest are spread across the country and in Israel, Canada and South America. Rabbi Dan Judson, our full-time director of professional development and job placement, works with students and graduates to help them prepare for and find the rabbinic position that is right for them. For more information about job placement support and success, click here.

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What mentorship opportunities does Hebrew College offer?
Hebrew College is blessed to have incredibly talented and learned faculty members who consider rabbinic education their primary work. They are available in and out of class to help you grow as a person and a rabbi. All students are assigned a faculty adviser to assist them with choosing classes and navigating the various challenges of being a rabbinical student. During required internships in Shanah Dalet and Shanah Heh, students have mentors in their place of employment who meet with them regularly to reflect on their work and develop plans for growth. In addition to these formal programs, organic, informal student-teacher mentoring relationships often emerge as students are drawn to one or more faculty members who serve as resources for questions and support.

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How will I grow professionally?
Gaining practical rabbinic training and experience is an essential component of your education here. You will graduate from Hebrew College prepared for the varied responsibilities of being a rabbi.

Practical Training. You will take classes on rabbinic leadership, pastoral counseling, life-cycle events, homiletics and prayer-leading skills throughout the program.

Supervised Internships. During the final two years of the program, you will have supervised, paid internships in local Jewish institutions that provide you with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Hebrew College has developed partnerships with many leading Boston congregations from across the religious spectrum, as well as Hillels, day schools and other innovative Jewish organizations. These partner organizations offer internships each year to our students.

Professional Specialization. You can gain greater expertise in specific areas, choosing from one of four specialization tracks:

  • Certificate in Organization Leadership
  • Certificate in Pastoral Care (in collaboration with Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew SeniorLife)
  • Certificate in Jewish Music
  • Master of Jewish Education

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How will Hebrew College support my spiritual growth?
Developing into a rabbi requires far more than the acquisition of knowledge. We believe students must grow holistically, including cultivating the life of the spirit. We offer the following extra-curricular opportunities to support this growth at no additional charge to students.

  • Ikvotecha (Spiritual Direction). During monthly meetings with their “mashpia” (spiritual director), students reflect on their spiritual life, personal theology and religious practice through conversation, meditation, written reflection and artistic expression. Spiritual Direction helps students cultivate a stance of openness to the fullness of life, deeper awareness of moments of holiness and greater ability to be in silence and offer spontaneous prayer.

  • Rabbinic Writing Institute. Students have the opportunity to do writing as a spiritual practice with author and teacher Merle Feld. During monthly meetings, Merle helps students develop and explore their own inner lives using writing as a vehicle for this work. Under Merle’s guidance, students also learn to be more effective spiritual leaders as she draws on her wisdom and years of teaching experience to help students with personal and professional challenges.

  • Clinical Pastoral Education. Clinical Pastoral Education is an intensive interfaith professional-education program for current and future clergy. In CPE, done either full-time during the summer or part-time during the academic year, students engage in supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Through these experiences and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those with whom they work.

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As a pluralistic school, how do you pray together?
We begin each morning with spirited communal tefila (prayer) in the beit midrash. In this tranquil space, we have created a dynamic and meaningful prayer community in which we welcome and encourage engagement with traditional Jewish liturgy and prayer forms as well as experimentation and creativity. Some mornings, our “shacharit” (morning prayer service) involves a full, traditional liturgy. Other mornings, it is a more contemplative experience with meditation and chanting. Students are expected to attend morning tefila at least two days a week. On Thursdays, we pray as a rabbinical school community. At least one other day a week, students pray in smaller groups formed based on interest. To help learn liturgy and tefila-leading skills, Mekorot and Shanah Aleph students are expected to attend Friday morning minyan as well.

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How do you determine if new students should start in Mekorot or Shanah Aleph?
Your placement is determined largely based on your knowledge of Hebrew. Applicants who studied two years of college-level Hebrew generally are ready for Mekorot, while those with three years of college-level Hebrew tend to start in Shanah Aleph. Your experience in studying sacred text in the original, as well as your general Jewish knowledge and background, are also a factor. Those with significant experience learning sacred text and life experience in Jewish contexts are more likely to be ready for Shanah Aleph. We will determine your placement based on your background and a series of written and oral Hebrew and text reading assessments, as appropriate, during the application process.

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Where do students live?
Hebrew College does not have residential housing, but our neighbors on the hill, Andover Newton Theological School, offer affordable campus housing options for Hebrew College students. In addition, many of our students live in cities and towns throughout Greater Boston, home to one of the most robust, learned and active Jewish communities in the world. The most popular of these are Newton, Brookline and the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. Newton, our host city, is a safe and welcoming community teeming with restaurants, shops, and public transportation. Brookline is the center of Jewish Boston. It is an urban area with kosher and nonkosher restaurants as well as more than 10 synagogues and places to pray on Shabbat. Jamaica Plain has a great urban feel and an active and progressive Jewish community. For more information on housing, click here.

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What is Shabbos life like at Hebrew College?
Hebrew College has a welcoming, celebratory and caring culture that includes our celebration of Shabbat. Mainly through informal student and faculty efforts, we help each other have a full Shabbat experience. Our students often share Shabbat meals and attend Shabbat “tefila” together. Once a month, we host a “minyan” on Shabbat morning that is an opportunity for us to enjoy Shabbat together, bring the Hebrew College spirit of tefila to Shabbat “davenen” and give people the opportunity to practice leading Shabbat tefila in a safe, supportive space. For many students, Shabbat is also a time that they have obligations to teach and lead services.

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How do I pay for rabbinical school?
We recognize that, for many, rabbinical school is an extraordinary financial commitment. We do as much as we can to support you. In general, students pay for their education through need-based financial aid from Hebrew College, working part-time and taking out student loans. We also award four or five merit fellowships each year of approximately $10,000 a year for three years. You can read more about how to pay for rabbinical school here.

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