Jerusalem College Of Technology
Jerusalem College Of Technologyצילום: JCT

The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) today announced its recent launch of a smicha (rabbinic ordination) program which aims to produce graduates who will fill the leadership void for Israel’s Anglo (English-speaking) communities and congregations that do not currently employ rabbis.

With communities across Israel often viewing paid staff rabbis as expendable due to economic constraints, JCT’s new program aims to revive the position of rabbi as a community leadership role in the Jewish state.

Headed by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, the JCT Smicha Program is already generating interest from community leaders and educators from around the world who are passionate about breathing new life into Jewish leadership in an evolving landscape in Israel. The program caters to students who are not necessarily interested in working as full-time pulpit rabbis, but instead are seeking to balance Jewish community leadership with their careers in high-tech and other fields.

“In smicha programs abroad, the model is such that you begin with your undergraduate degree and move on to rabbinic ordination, which is considered a graduate degree. Our program is tailored to an Israeli society that is much faster-paced and where the job market and general lifestyle, including yeshiva studies and army service, does not allow for two degrees before entering the workforce,” said Rabbi Shlomo Anapolle, head of JCT’s International Program in English.

JCT’s smicha track is designed to provide chavruta (peer-to-peer) learning opportunities alongside sophisticated shiurim (classes) within the College’s Beit Midrash. Despite providing classes in English, the emphasis on original source texts allows for any student who is interested in accelerating their learning to the highest standard of Torah study to do so. Informed by an understanding of the daily responsibilities of a community rabbi, the track also includes mental health awareness training alongside its rigorous religious studies.

The Smicha Program aligns with JCT’s overall curricular model in which students are involved in focused Torah study in the mornings, followed by academics in the afternoons. Accordingly, students in JCT’s rabbinic ordination track are able to simultaneously study the academic disciplines that give them peace of mind about their future careers, thereby enabling them to pursue clergy positions in Anglo communities without concerns over their financial security.

“JCT hopes to create a community that is Torah-oriented and economically viable,” Anapolle said. “Our Smicha Program is providing an academically strong graduate who is also committed to community development. We want this program to be an investment in Jewish leadership in the State of Israel. This is a game-changing approach when it comes to Anglos integrating into Israeli society, in terms of Torah study and Jewish leadership.”