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How Do I Get Ordained as a Rabbi?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions still in existence. As such, it has many historical traditions and beliefs about the ways in which their religious leaders, rabbis, become ordained. There are three main denominations in Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. These three movements have different takes on the ordination process.

What is a rabbi?

The Universal Life Church will help you answer the question, "How do I get ordained as a rabbi" with this post.

The Universal Life Church will help you answer the question, “How do I get ordained as a rabbi” with this post.

In Hebrew, the word rabbi means “teacher.” Rabbis are the religious leaders of Judaism who oversee religious rituals, give sermons, and serve as community leaders. Rabbis are ordained when they have a semikhah (meaning “leaning of the hands”), a ceremony generally conducted at a theological institute upon the completion of a long series of religious studies.

The three denominations of Judaism have differing beliefs on what constitutes a “legitimate” rabbi, but in all movements, rabbis play an integral role in Jewish communities. An important principle in Judaism is that ordination was passed down in an unbroken chain from Moses. Some scholars believe this chain is still unbroken.

How do I get ordained as a rabbi?

To get ordained as a rabbi, a person must study Jewish history and theology for years at an academic institute. Rabbis must also learn to speak Hebrew with some degree of fluency.

For aspiring rabbis of the Reform denomination, the Hebrew Union College is the largest seminary and has campuses in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, and Jerusalem. For Conservative Jews, the Jewish Theological Seminary has schools in several major colleges. Orthodox Jews attend seminaries called yeshivot. Training at these seminaries lasts approximately five years. These seminaries would be a good first resource for those wondering, “How do I get ordained?”

After ordination, a rabbi may continue studying how to be an adept religious leader by interning at a temple or under a certain scholar before finding a home temple. Then, an established temple generally offers a rabbi a contract that is renewed on a yearly basis.

Similar to the practices of the Universal Life Church, women can be rabbis within the Reform and Conservative movements, as can people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Orthodox Judaism does not permit either women or people in the LGBT community to be ordained.

What does a rabbi do?

Conducting religious services are one of the many things you can do if you become ordained as a rabbi.

Conducting religious services are one of the many things you can do if you become ordained as a rabbi.

A rabbi oversees religious services at a temple. This includes leading prayer and delivering sermons. An important aspect of any rabbi’s duty is leading life cycle events. Life cycle events include baptisms, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals. A rabbi is a revered figure within their Jewish community, helping to guide members of their temple in their spiritual and religious journeys. Rabbis also schedule events and workshops within the temple and manage day to day operations.

This is the first post in the How Do I Get Ordained series. Hope you enjoyed it! A whole slew of articles on how to become ordained in a variety of religions will be published on this site in the coming months, so stay tuned.


5 Comments

  1. I wish to become a rabbi asap

  2. David דוד Fern פרן says:

    ב״ה

    and then there are those of us
    that where raised as orthodox jews
    but do not have the time or money
    or the patients that it takes
    in becoming an orthodox rabbi
    but are highly interested
    in becoming an orthodox rabbi
    as soon as possible

    i do know my alephbet as you can see
    i also teach hebrew online for free
    as a mitzvah (mitzvah ~ good deed)
    on a facebook group site called
    ב״ה free weekly hebrew lesson

    now you know my reasons
    for wanting to become an orthodox rabbi

    please send reply as soon as possible
    toda rabah ~ thank you very much

    דוד פרן ~ david fern

    חג שמח ~ happy holidays

    שלום עליכם ~ shalom alecheim

  3. harry james says:

    i would love to be jewish can anyone help me then email me at : laraib.gill@yahoo.com thanks

  4. Michael umunna says:

    I want to be ordained as arabbi

  5. bradley hale says:

    IM HAVING A HARD TIME TO FINDING A ADULT EDUCATION CLASS,ON THE INTERNET,OR FINDING A COLLEGE TO GO TO..I WANT TO BECOME AN ORDAINED RABBI AND AN EDUCATION TEACHER.IM LOOKING FOR AN COLLEGE NEAR ME,BUT I CANT SEEM TO FIND ONE THAT TEACHES YESHIVA OR ORTHODOX …MY MOTHERS SIDE OF THE FAMILY IS GERMAN JEWISH AND MY FATHERS SIDE IS GERMAN HUNGARY.MY MOTHERS FAMILY IMIGRATED TO THE USA IN THE 1800S.I AM THE 5TH GENERATION..ON MY FATHERS SIDE IM THE 4TH GENERATION… WHEN MY MOTHERS SIDE IMIGRATED HERE,THEY CHANGED THERE LAST NAME TO A GERMAN LAST NAME,AND NOBODY PRACTICED THE JEWISH FAITH..BUT PRACTICED THE CHRISTIAN FAITH…WHEN MY GRANDFATHER PASSED AWAY.MY MOM GOT HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE,,AND MY MOM AND HER FAMILY WAS SUPRISED TO FIND OUT THAT THEY ARE REALLY GERMAN/JEWISH…I WAS RAISED A GOOD CHRISTIAN..2YRS AGO MY MOM PASSED AWAY WHEN I WAS HOLDING HER HANDS..BUT I MADE A PROMISE TO HER.THAT I WOULD REVIVE THE JEWISH FAITH IN THE FAMILY..MY FAITH IS JEWISH/CHRISTIAN….I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE ORDAINED RABBI AND BE AN EDUCATION TEACHER….IM 51YRS OLD AND I BELIEVE AND HAVE STUDIED BOTH THE TORAH/KJBIBLE.AND I ALSO HAVE BEEN TO HEAVEN AND BACK SEVERAL TIMES..AND I ALSO HAVE SEEN AND TALK TO JESUS FACE TO FACE..CAN YOU HELP ME.I KNOW THY COMMANDEMENTS AND BELIEVE INTHE OLD AND NEW TESTEMENTS. BUT I HAVE TO KEEP THE PROMISE TO MY MOTHER..SO IS THERE A YESHIVA COLLEGE/OR/AN ORTHODOX COLLEGE I CAN GET CONTACT WITH IN OHIO..I WOULD GREATLY APPRIECIATE YOUR HELP AND INPUT..I ALSO NEED HELP LEARNING HEBREW..


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