Friday, January 11, 2008

Hartman Institute

Many new rabbinical schools have opened in the past decade. The American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies ordained its first class of rabbis in 1999, the modern Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) has been ordaining progressive Orthodox rabbis for a few years in New York, and the pluralistic Hebrew College will ordain its first rabbis this Spring.

Rabbi David HartmanNow, the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem has announced that it will open its own rabbinical school at its German Colony location. In a Jerusalem Post article titled "Hartman Institute to ordain women rabbis", Matthew Wagner writes:

In a step that marks a major change in gender roles within modern Orthodoxy, women will be ordained as Orthodox rabbis. Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, founded by Rabbi David Hartman (right), himself a modern Orthodox rabbi, will open a four-year program next year to prepare women and men of all denominations - Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and also Orthodox - for rabbinic ordination.

The decision to ordain women Orthodox rabbis will certainly be met with much criticism in the Orthodox community, especially since the rabbinical school will be in Jerusalem. Rabbi David Hartman's son Rabbi Donniel Hartman is the co-director of the Hartman Institute. He said, "For too long now we have been robbing ourselves of 50 percent of our potential leaders; people who can shape and inspire others. The classic distinctions between men and women are no longer relevant."

Each of these emerging rabbinical schools have had, and will continue to have, a major impact on the modern Jewish community. It will be interesting to see what role the first women rabbis to be ordained by the Hartman Institute will have in Israel and beyond. Best of luck to the Hartman Institute in this new endeavor.


Rabbi Jason Miller said...

The Hartman Institute is not the first rabbinical school created with the intention of ordaining non-denominational rabbis. Both the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College were both originally established for that purpose even though each institution is now part of a denomination and ordains denomination-specific rabbis today. The Academy of Jewish Religion (New York) also ordains non-denominational rabbis.

The Hartman Institute will be the first school to ordain non-denominational rabbis in Israel however, and it will certainly be the first to have an Orthodox rabbi (David Hartman) grant semikha (rabbinic ordination) to women.

Rabbi Jason Miller said...

Update: Jerusalem Post, February 24, 2010