All academic courses are taught by rabbis or educators with a MHL, MA or Ph.D. Our Innovation program is led by Jewish professionals with various educational backgrounds and experiences.
The PRS rabbinical program is quarterly (as opposed to the semester system), with four, eleven-week blocks per year. Between those quarters are a one-week intensive where students apply what they have learned from their core learning into an interdisciplinary “online retreat” with their fellow students and educators. There are three of these intensives per year with one, free one-week break from all learning.
This is the rubric for courses students will take to meet the requirements of smicha, as well as samples of courses students will take in our program. Further details about each course, course guides, instructors and meeting times are announced each quarter.
Required Core Academics
- Classical and Modern Hebrew
- Rabbinic Literature I and II
- Tanakh I and II
- Pratical Halachah
- Jewish History I and II
- Liturgy: Weekday, Shabbat and Holidays
Intermediate / Advanced Hebrew through Song and Poetry
This course will offer students an immersive journey through Hebrew song and poetry. Throughout the course students will engage regularly with topics such as Israel, spirituality, politics, and history. This learning will help them develop their ability to explore these topics with everyone in a deep and meaningful way.
People of the Book -Tanakh I & II
The Jewish Bible is both cornerstone of the Jewish religion and crowning glory of the Jewish people. Whether seen as the direct product of the divine hand, divinely inspired text, or the result of centuries of multiple, very human, authors and editors, the Tanakh is the alpha and the omega.
In this course we will gain insight into both the content and the structure of this great work, as well as placing the narrative into its wider historical context.
In Tanakh I we will focus predominantly on the books of the Torah. In Tanakh II the focus will shift to the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim (the Prophets and the Writings).
This course is part survey course, part Beit Midrash. Each week students will both learn about the nature of the Biblical work and study directly from the texts themselves.
From ‘People of the Book’ to ‘People of the Books’ – The Foundational Post-Biblical Works
This course is part survey course, part Beit Midrash. Students will learn about the great works of Jewish literature. They will study the development of the different genres of Jewish literature, and understand how these fit into the wider historical context.
In addition, students will actually study from the foundational texts of each of these genres
The World of Talmud
This course is designed as an introduction to the rich world of rabbinic literature as manifested in the Babylonian Talmud, an enormous collection written and redacted between circa the fourth and seventh centuries C.E. As a group, we’ll explore the questions: Who were the early rabbis, and what were they attempting to accomplish in their writing and redaction of the Talmud. We’ll also consider the influence of the Talmud on later Judaism.
Practical Rabbinics I
This course explores practical aspects of the modern rabbinate, including Life Cycle events, with particular emphasis on the Jewish and Jewish Interfaith wedding, Brit Milah and naming ceremonies and the Bar and Bat Mitzvah experience.
In addition we will discuss the history and traditions of the Jewish funeral, including how to create an inclusive eulogy, graveside ceremony and memorial service. An additional focus centers on dealing with family dysfunction.
The pastoral care component of this course includes terminal illness and end of life issues while the homiletics units deal with practical rabbinic skills from creating participatory services, writing and delivering a meaningful sermon to working with a Board of Directors, avoiding rabbi burn-out and turning a dying shul into a thriving synagogue.
Jewish Theology (How God Became a 4-Letter Word)
This course will trace how humanity created the concept of God, and how that God is the answer to all of our thoughts, wants, and ideas from science to religion. The very young to the very old the idea and concept of God evolves and grows just like we do. This course traces the history of God through units such as God Created God, God of the Philosophers, God of the Great and God of Crisis and Joy.
Additional Course Titles and Descriptions To Be Announced
- Early Jewish History to Middle Ages
- Middle Ages to Modern Jewish History
- Practical Halacha I
- Practical Halacha II
Practical Rabbinics II: Chaplaincy
- Classical Hebrew
- Weekday and Shabbat Liturgy
- Holiday Liturgy
Students choose sixteen static courses they would like which include history, culture, philosophy, etc. The purpose of these static electives is to stretch the imagination of how core academics can be utilized cross-discipline.
Current electives include:
- Jews and American National Politics
- Jews and Social Justice
- Twenty Two Spiritual Exercises By Rabbi Brian Mayer
- Jews and the Deli: A Social History
- Jewish Approaches to Recovery
Our program is delivered through six learning approaches: online-moderated courses, live courses, online intensives, innovation program, one on one mentorship and static electives.
Online-Moderated courses are consecutive and are administered by an instructor, in one of the following academic areas: history, liturgy, text, philosophy/theology. Each course has nine static video lectures with a reading and homework assignment across nine weeks. For each lecture, there is an online discussion forum for that unit that students must participate in, in order to receive participation credit.
Live Courses are for classical and modern Hebrew as well as the two practical rabbinics courses. They meet nine times per quarter for two quarters each, in Zoom, a live streaming platform. Students can also receive two hours of one-on-one interaction with their educator on their schedule. Students can increase their one on one time with a language tutor for an additional fee.
Online Intensives are one week long, Sunday through Thursday, via Zoom. They are focused on providing a space where students interact with each other face-to-face. Each intensives combines and expands upon the material learned in the previous nine weeks for a cross-discipline approach to Jewish learning.
Both the Live Courses and Online Intensives meet at or after 7PM Eastern Standard Time.
The following are samples of intensives which are under development:
- Strengthening Hebrew Skills Through Liturgy
- The Intersection of Tanakh and Modern Hebrew
- Liturgy As A Tool For Practical Rabbinics
- The Talmud of Jewish History
Static Electives are a series of self-guided podcast-based courses, utilizing web-based, automated LearnDash quizzes to keep students engaged. They take approximately eleven hours per elective. Students are required to take eight of their choice in any series of topics per year.
Innovation is a series of guided online masterclasses that teach the business of rabbinical work, organization strategy, development, management and marketing. These masterclasses are overseen by our director with one-on-one support and can be taken at any time. By the end of their masterclasses, students will have a business plan for their innovative Jewish project. Course materials are presented using self-guided podcast-based units, video, handouts, and outside resources.
PRS simultaneously educates rabbis and incubates amazing Jewish startups. Whether students are creating community, developing products or services, launching art projects or any other number forward thinking initiatives, PRS helps students create these Jewish startups through its Innovation Program.
One On One Mentorship is your guide though the learning process. Your mentor will help you, by listening to your needs, and by coaching you through your time at Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary. This relationship will explore everything from academic to spiritual advancement, personal growth and development, and your plans for the future.