New deal on rabbinic training for UK

LSJS dean and rabbinic student Dr Raphael Zarum  photo: John Rifkin

LSJS dean and rabbinic student Dr Raphael Zarum photo: John Rifkin

When the London School of Jewish Studies — the reincarnation of the old Jews’ College — pulled out of rabbinic ordination a decade ago, it seemed a turning-point in British Jewry. No longer was there a home-grown programme for training future rabbis for the United Synagogue and other central Orthodox congregations: instead they would have to rely on Israeli and American institutions to fill their pulpits.

Now LSJS is back in the semichah business. It is teaming up with the Montefiore semichah programme, which was launched in 2005 by the Sephardi community to plug the gap then left by LSJS.

“We have been working closely with the Montefiore Endowment for a number of years, which is a funder of LSJS,” said LSJS dean Raphael Zarum (right). Dr Zarum himself is one of the rabbinical students due to graduate from the Montefiore programme next year.

“An increasing number of people are not able to travel to study in Israel because it is financially difficult,” Dr Zarum said. “They may be older or married.”

A growing need for rabbis has become apparent not only for synagogues here but also for the expanding Jewish school system. “We have a lot of connections with shuls and schools,” he said. “We are plugged into the community in a big way.”

Lucien Gubbay, chairman of the Montefiore Endowment, said: “We want people with a self is one of the rabbinical students due to graduate from the Montefiore programme next year.

“An increasing number of people are not able to travel to study in Israel because it is financially difficult,” Dr Zarum said. “They may be older or married.”

A growing need for rabbis has become apparent not only for synagogues here but also for the expanding Jewish school system. “We have a lot of connections with shuls and schools,” he said. “We are plugged into the community in a big way.”

Lucien Gubbay, chairman of the Montefiore Endowment, said: “We want people with a broad, educational background who are used to living in the world. We don’t want ivory tower rabbis.”

The part-time programme — which is fully subsidised for students — is not for beginners; applicants will probably need a first degree and the equivalent of a couple of years’ yeshivah study . The plan initally to recruit a new intake of rabbinic students at least every four years.

LSJS and Montefiore have also launched a one-year kollel programme this year, which could serve as a feeder for the semichah course. It is under the tutelage of Rabbi Eliezer Zobin, the head of the Beit Midrash at Immanuel College.

Last updated: 11:01am, November 2 2012