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Religious Pluralism

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
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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 Impact

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.



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. 


Yosef Kanefsky

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.”


“Because of my study with Hartman, I have been able to apply the methodology of discussing contentious issues in terms of their underlying values, rather than their surface manifestations. This has been enormously impactful both in public gathering and in pastoral settings, on issues related to Israel, LGBT inclusion, immigration policy, and more.”

Rabbinic Leadership Programs are funded by The Russell Berrie Foundation,

The Crown Family, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago,

Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and other generous supporters.

Alma Home for Hebrew Culture


Alma trains cultural change agents to shape and influence pluralistic Jewish discourse and the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State. The program is creating a community of cultural influencers through its Fellowship for emerging cultural leaders, an alumni fellowship program, ongoing weekly courses on Judaism and the arts, and numerous Jewish cultural evenings open to the Tel Aviv public throughout the year. The Alma-Hartman relationship strengthens Hartman’s presence in central Israel and reaches Israel’s cultural elite.

This year at Alma, the Artists’ Fellowship Program brought together two cohorts of cultural thought leaders and trendsetters who influence broader Israeli society through their creative work. The program's seminars and workshops with leading Israeli political, intellectual, and cultural leaders provided participants new tools for understanding and expressing their Israeli identity. 

Alma also ran several weekly courses open to the public, as well as numerous public events and lecture series that contributed to a new discourse on Israeli democracy through the integration of traditional Jewish texts, art, and current events.

Alma is supported by the Matanel Foundation, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, and other generous supporters.



Can Yehuda Kurtzer’s Doctrine of Pluralism Heal the Divides in The Jewish Community? – The New York Jewish Week did a deep profile of SHI North America, with Yehuda Kurtzer at the helm, as an engine for building common ground.
“If it is important to us, we have to talk about it,” Yehuda Kurtzer said during a wide-ranging interview in his office. "If we’re not addressing the most difficult questions that Jews are asking, then we are doing a disservice to the Jewish people... it’s hard to pray together, it’s hard to do political activism together. The only thing we can do together is study.”

Noam Zion’s Marital Friendship and Covenantal Partnership: Comparative Models of Love and Marriage

Review of the book in Canadian Jewish News 

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