Curriculum Overview and Graduation Requirements | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

ACADEMICS

Curriculum Overview and Graduation Requirements

ACADEMICS

Curriculum Overview and Graduation Requirements

Curriculum Overview

The core program is designed to meet the needs of students who enter RRC with a love of Judaism and a passion for serving the Jewish people, a strong undergraduate training in the liberal arts or sciences, and a demonstrated aptitude in the areas of social and emotional intelligence. Students who enter the College with limited Hebrew skills begin with the Mekhinah Year, which prepares them to succeed in the five-year core program. 

Students who enter the College with more extensive experience, knowledge or skills in the areas of Jewish studies, ritual or organizational leadership, and/or pastoral care may accelerate the program to meet their current capabilities, needs and interests.

Our instructors draw on best practices from academic study, traditional Jewish learning, mindfulness practice, and pastoral and professional training to help students cultivate their intellectual, personal, and professional growth and learning.

The core program consists of two parts: The first two years are the Foundation Years, which provide students with grounding in the Jewish legacy from antiquity through modern times. These years also provide students with basic training in practical rabbinic skills and opportunities for personal spiritual growth. The final three years are the Integration Years. These years, which begin with a semester of study in Israel, further cultivate students’ knowledge, skills and abilities through individualized programs of study.

Mekhinah Year. We require that some students to complete one preparatory year of study before they are admitted to the five-year core program. The Mekhinah Year is designed to accommodate students who lack some skills required to begin rabbinical study but appear to have excellent potential for service to the Jewish people.

The Mekhinah Year program focuses on intensive study of Hebrew language and literature. Students also devote substantial time to the study of Jewish practices—the halakhah of customs, ceremonies, life-cycle events and calendar — and participate in a learners’ minyan. Successful completion of the Mekhinah Year qualifies students to continue in the College’s five-year rabbinical training program.

Foundation Years. During their Foundation Years, students cultivate a strong foundation in all areas of rabbinic formation. They encounter the unfolding story of Jewish civilization by studying texts, traditions and lived experience of Jews from antiquity to the present. In addition, they begin to cultivate pastoral, interpersonal and liturgical skills through classroom study and applied experience. The Foundation Years also include opportunities for students to cultivate the personal and spiritual growth that will animate and sustain their work as rabbis.

Integration Years. After completing the Foundation Years, students enter the Integration Years. We believe that the integration of intellectual, personal and professional modalities lies at the core of the rabbinic vocation. The Integration Years foster this crucial melding.

Students spend a semester of their first Integration Year in Israel, where they develop their Hebrew skills and learn firsthand about Israeli culture, history, politics and the experiences of Israel’s diverse population. During the Israel year, students engage in study and experiential learning that helps them to better understand the experiences of both Israelis and Palestinians. Many students engage in intensive study in one of Israel’s many Batei Midrash (houses of study), where they have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of Jewish texts through traditional study.

During their integration years at the College, students build on the skills and learning they have cultivated in the earlier parts of the program. Students take advanced text courses, which allow them to delve deeper into Judaism’s rich textual tradition. They also take courses that bring together academic, traditional and applied modes of study, as well as courses that combine the study of traditional texts and past Jewish experience with contemporary theory and creative application. They continue to develop their professional skills through study and practical learning in the areas of pastoral care, ritual leadership and organizational leadership, as well as through increasingly advanced field placements. Students further develop their professional skills within the RRC community through leading services, planning programs, and teaching fellow students and faculty during our community learning times. During the Integration Years, we encourage students to design their own learning experiences and projects that allow them to build on their individual areas of strength and interest.

FOUNDATION YEARS

Courses
• Biblical Core – Civilization (four credits)
• Rabbinic Core – Civilization (three credits)
• Medieval Core – Civilization (three credits)
• Modern Core – Civilization (three credits)
• Medieval Core – Thought (two credits)
• Modern Core – Thought (two credits)
• Reconstructionism 1 (two credits)

Foundation Text
• Tanakh 1 (two credits)
• Tanakh 2 (two credits)
• Rabbinic Core: Introduction to Rabbinic Thought & Literature (four credits)
• Talmud 1 & 2 (four credits)
• Parshanut HaMikra 1 (two credits)

Hebrew
• Introduction to Rabbinic Hebrew (two credits)
• Intermediate Modern Hebrew 1 (two credits)
• Intermediate Modern Hebrew 2-3 (four credits)

Practical Rabbinics, Professional and Personal Formation
• Life-Cycle Shiur (one credit)
• Life-Cycle Practicum (one credit)
• T’fillah Shiur/Practicum 1 (one credit)
• T’fillah Shiur/Practicum 2 (one credit)
• Year-Cycle Shiur (one credit)
• Teaching and Learning Practicum (one credit)
• Foundations of Rabbinic Relationships and Ethics (two credits)

INTEGRATION YEARS

Required Courses
• Contemporary Civilization-Israel (two credits)
• Contemporary Jewish Landscape (two credits)
• Contemporary Jewish Thought (two credits)
• Entrepreneurship (two credits)
• Group Work (two credits)
• Homiletics (two credits)
• Intermediate Modern Hebrew 4 (six credits)
• Introduction to Jewish Mysticism (two credits)
• Israel Seminar (offered in Israel)
• Jewish Identity (two credits)
• Pastoral Counseling (two credits)
• Rabbi as Leader (two credits)
• Senior Capstone (two credits)
• Senior Seminars (two one-credit courses)

Distribution Requirements
• Advanced Biblical Text (two credits)
• Midrash (two credits)
• Advanced Talmud (four credits)
• Text and Practice (two credits)
• Advanced Text (six credits)
• Multifaith (four credits)
• Social Justice (two credits)

Professional Formation Workshops
• Boards (non-credit)
• Budgets and Financial Documents (non-credit)
• Clergy Sexual Boundaries (0.3 credit)
• LGBTQAI Inclusive Communities (0.3 credit)
• Navigating Israel in American Communities (0.3 credit)

Electives
• Courses (10 credits)
• Workshops (two additional workshops)

Additional Requirements (normally required of all students)
• Community service (normally completed in Foundation Year 1)
• Demonstration of basic knowledge of Christianity and Islam
• Rabbinical Formation Experience (one credit per semester, excluding senior year)
• Demonstration of basic liturgy skills
• Participation in communal worship, reflection and study
• Professional shadowing (40 hours)
• Supervised fieldwork (six semesters)
• Three visits to Reconstructionist congregations
• Year of study in Israel

Please take a look at the course catalogue to become better acquainted with the breadth and depth of our academic offerings.

 

Graduation Requirements

  • A minimum of three years of full-time study at the RRC or its equivalent (most students complete the program in five to six years)
  • One semester of Israel residency
  • Fulfillment of all academic and professional requirements
  • Approval by the faculty  

Students who enter the College with limited Hebrew skills begin with the Mekhinah Year, which prepares them to succeed in the five-year core program. Students who enter with more extensive knowledge of Jewish studies, or greater experience in ritual or organizational leadership and/or pastoral care, may modify or accelerate their program to meet their individual needs.