|Ask Rabbi Lerner|
do you become a rabbi? What schooling do you need to go through? Are there any
restrictions? Any special ceremonies or traditions that go with the process?
Thanks for writing but you perhaps should speak with a local Rabbi.
Let me speak for mainstream Rabbinical training, excluding the possibility of "private" ordination, phony "diploma mills," and a variety of marginal programs.
In mainstream Rabbinical programs, Orthodox through Reconstructionist, and even the newer post-denominational schools that are nonetheless truly mainstream with the highest academic standards:
1. There is some form of admission process that often includes testing, both psychological and subject competence
2. One has to complete a minimum of 4 years of college
3. The major differences between the institutions are the various emphases - Talmud, philosophy,Hebrew, history, Bible, etc. even though there are minimum requirements in each subject area plus a variety of practical Rabbinics, pastoral psychology, etc.
4. A minimum of 5-6 years and also one year in Israel, especially to develop a relationship with Israel and familiarity with Hebrew as a living language
5. Graduation or ordination is essentially the same kind of ceremony with various kinds of certification or diplomas. I chose to have all of my teachers sign my diploma, and while it took some time to receive, I am very glad as most are no longer living except in my heart and mind - and I miss them
6. Some Seminaries or yeshivot also require an internship to gain some practical experience
7. Some movements require a new graduate to start with a small congregation in order to learn all of the various elements of congregational or institutional life before moving up to a large congregation, UNLESS one takes an assistant position in a larger congregation which is much more narrow in function.
If you are interested in any particular movement or ordination, please write them for their details.
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)