|Ask Rabbi Lerner|
My husband is interested in becoming a rabbi, but we live in a remote area. Is there any rabbinical ordination program (not a mickey mouse one) that can be done entirely or almost entirely over the Internet or distance learning?
There ARE diploma mills and mickey mouse programs, as you describe them.
Even if the synagogue didn't care or never discovered it, nonetheless you and your husband would know and very quickly the lack of a proper Jewish education would create problems in terms of decision-making leading a congregation and guiding people professionally.
Several ideas come to mind - none easy. The first is that most schools provide for the possibility of scholarships, fellowships and working while attending school. You could work as well, and it would take no more than six years - a small amount of time for a serious and well-earned degree.
Secondly, some schools provide for part-time learning, depending upon the movement with which you want to identify or are affiliated. There are "transdenominational" seminaries starting up and you could contact Hebrew College in Boston and the AJR in New York.
Don't settle for the easy or phoney; please, for the sake of your community and your sense of integrity.
And, go for it. The education is wonderful and worth the effort.
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)