Building a Jewish people and a State of Israel that respect and celebrate diversity
“Israel as home of the Jewish people cannot merely be a fortress, a place of refuge from external danger. A home is a place that embraces diversity, where no one is asked to leave because of ideological differences. A home is a place where one feels respected and within which one’s individual identity is nurtured and allowed to unfold… Zionism and Israel, as homeland of the Jewish people, require that within our public sphere all voices within our people are respected and have a place.”
Donniel Hartman, Times of Israel, July 2017
BEIT MIDRASH FOR ISRAELI RABBIS
The Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis is cultivating a new generation of Israeli Jewish leaders from diverse backgrounds who possess the vision and skills to lead emerging Jewish communities and organizations. These rabbis will serve as the driving force behind Jewish renewal in Israeli society, bringing individuals, families, communities, and institutions into a deeper engagement with and commitment to pluralistic Judaism. The leaders trained in this program serve as Jewish visionaries in Israeli society, poised to take Israeli Judaism and the role of religion in Israel in new directions.
The program is building a critical mass of rabbinic leaders who will provide an outlet for Israelis who wish to express their Jewish identity in diverse ways. By ordaining graduates with the title “Rabbi,” a title still associated with Orthodoxy, the program aims to reclaim this term to refer to a leader who engages Judaism with modernity, holds Judaism to the highest principles of human rights, believes that Israel is the homeland of all Jews and a state for all its citizens, forges new connections between all Jews, insists on tolerance for all, expresses Judaism not only through ritual but also through adherence to moral codes, and is committed to gender equality.
Cohorts are comprised of leaders from all Israeli Jewish denominations, from the social and geographic center and periphery, representing the broad spectrum of Israel’s Jewish communities. Since the program’s inception in 2015, more than 30 rabbis have been or are studying to be ordained, with the second cohort's ordination scheduled for September 2018.
Alumni are tasked with creating individual and joint initiatives – Beit Midrash programs, lifecycle ceremonies, public conferences, and innovative prayer – for their communities and Israeli society that aim to connect Israelis with a pluralistic Judaism and to change public perception of what constitutes Judaism and the expression of Judaism in the public sphere.
Alumni initiatives include:
A new beit midrash for Israeli rabbis and spiritual and educational leaders from different denominations to officiate at marriage ceremonies
Development of a new model for conversion
Leadership of a program for Orthodox women to become poskot halacha (decisors of Jewish law)
Establishment of a new pre-army academy for post-high school Jewish and Arab youth
Participation in public events that showcase new opportunities for rabbinic involvement, including a lecture series in North America on breaking down Israel’s rigid religious barriers and boundaries
The Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis is supported by the Aviv Foundation, Canadian Friends of Shalom Hartman Institute, Murray Goldman, Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, UJA-Federation of New York, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, and other generous donors.
RABBINIC LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
The Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Programs, with nearly 1,000 alumni, empower rabbis to become more compelling thought leaders who can communicate, educate, and lead courageously on the issues facing Judaism, Jewish peoplehood, and Israel in the 21st century. These programs are universally respected for the quality of their faculty and the depth of Torah study in which participants engage as they address the central challenges of contemporary Jewish life.
The intensive three-year Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) immerses an elite cadre of North American rabbis in the highest levels of Jewish learning, equipping them to meet contemporary challenges with ever-increasing intellectual and moral sophistication. The 28 members of RLI VI are now halfway through their three years of study.
RLI Cohort VI, Rabbi, B'nai David-Judea, Los Angeles, CA
Partnership with Hartman:
“We have been able to bring a number of Hartman scholars to the Bnai David -Judea community, including Yossi Klein Halevi, Elana Stein Hain, and Haroon Moghul. We also participate in the Hartman Collaborative Lecture Series with other synagogues and organizations in LA.”
The Gift of RLI:
“RLI provides the opportunity to spend concentrated and serious time studying ideas crucial to the Jewish people with scholars who spend their lives thinking about these ideas, the opportunity to meet and learn from colleagues from all over the country, and the opportunity to spend time in Jerusalem.”