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Top Five Questions
Is this smicha (ordination) valid?
Yes. Students learn from Conservative/Masorti, Reform and Post-Denominational rabbis who then act as the bet din and/or signatories for smicha. While we seek to provide the best pluralistic education possible, we do not offer Orthodox ordination, ordination for living and working in Israel or to satisfy the requirements of any particular denominational vaad/rabbinical council or rabbinical union.
Is this entirely online?
Yes. Students learn through a variety of online educational methods including live group learning, weekly independent study, online chat with their students and educators, and several other learning modes meant to provide an incredibly interactive program. At the end of the two years of study, students are ordained by a pluralistic bet din of three or more rabbis, each representing a different movement in progressive Judaism. Ordination is held in Westchester County, NY.
How much does the program cost? How can I save money in the program?
Cost of our program for the 2023-25 cohort is broken down as follows:
Admissions Fee: Free
Monthly Tuition: $850.00
Textbooks: $50.00 or less per month
Graduation Fee: $250.00
Students can save on the cost of the program in the following ways:
- Participate in our Rabbinic Fellowships when available
- Careful purchasing of digital textbooks. Most of the courses require textbooks available from Amazon.com. These textbooks range in digital format price from $5.00-$15.00. Students are welcome to purchase paper textbooks if they would like, but are not required.
The only additional expense is cost of travel and lodging for ordination, held in Westchester County, NY.
Payment can be made via debit card, credit card or Paypal. We do not accept checks, cash or other forms of payment.
Who are the educators in the seminary?
Our seminary includes Reform, Conservative/Masorti and Post-Denominational rabbis and Jewish educators. You can meet our team here.
Who do you admit to the program?
You can learn more about our admissions requirements here.
You can apply for our program here.
General Program Questions
When do courses begin?
Students can begin learning at any time.
Is this entirely online?
Yes. Students learn through a variety of online educational methods including live group learning, weekly independent study, online chat with their students and educators, and several other learning modes meant to provide an incredibly interactive program. At the end of the two years of study, students are ordained by a pluralistic bet din of three or more rabbis, each representing a different movement in progressive Judaism.
How long is the program? Can I start and stop at any time?
Our program is two years and is equivalent to a working adult professional online MBA. As we only work with one cohort at a time, stopping your learning and starting over means that you will have to wait until April 1st of the following year to rejoin the seminary. We recommend only students who can commit to consistent learning participate in our program.
What are courses like?
There are several types of online learning methods utilized in our program. Learn more here.
Do I need special technology?
Similar to Zoom meetings, students need a computer with a webcam, microphone, and access to the internet in a private place of study such as their home. While we appreciate that libraries and universities may have great study areas, we recommend students learn from their home.
How much time will I have to commit to learning?
Between watching and listening to lectures, reading, homework, participating in online forums and live streaming sessions, students will need to commit to at least twenty five hours per week to learning, homework and mentorship meetings. Our program is only successful if students are actively engaged. Students who fail to participate fully in their courses will be excused from the program with no refund under any conditions.
Can I get a job in a synagogue, school or Jewish nonprofit with this smicha?
There are many options for rabbinical education and we would encourage students seeking more traditional careers to attend more traditional rabbinical schools.
What are the requirements to join the seminary?
Students will have the following mastery prior to entering the program:
Classical and Modern Hebrew (the equivalent skill of someone with a Bachelor’s degree)
Knowledge of Tanakh and Jewish history (the equivalent of someone with a Bachelor’s degree)
A working understanding of Talmud/halacha as it pertains to daily life, lifecycle and holidays
Knowledge of the structure and practice of the siddur and machzor
Some knowledge of Jewish philosophy, thinkers and mysticism
We have two levels of Hebrew: beginner-to-intermediate and intermediate-to-advanced. Students self select their level based on a prior conversation with the Rosh Yeshiva. We accept students at all Hebrew levels, with the understanding that we will help them achieve the level of skills they need from wherever they may be beginning skills-wise.
You are never too old or too young to become a rabbi. However, students must also have at least five or more years of experience working as a lay professional or volunteer in a Jewish organization, either synagogue, day school, JCC etc.
Students must be Jewish either by their mother or father or by conversion. Students may be in interfaith relationships. We also accept LGBTQ+ students.
We do not accept non-Jewish students or messianic Jews under any circumstances.
Can I convert to Judaism then become a rabbi?
A convert to Judaism certainly can become a rabbi. Since we do require a high level of Jewish knowledge and five or more years of Jewish leadership experience, we are reluctant to admit recently converted students.
Tuition and Expense Questions
How much does the program cost?
There is no fee to apply. Students pay $850.00 USD per month. Textbook prices vary based on whether a student buys books new, second hand or digital versions. Most electives do not require textbooks and all materials are included free in those courses.
How does payment work?
Students can pay on a variety of schedules including bi-weekly, quarterly and yearly. Payment is made through automated debit from a student’s bank account. Students are able to receive invoices and receipts for payment through their student financial portal.
What is the purpose of Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary?
We have three goals as a seminary: to train and ordain future rabbis for the future of Judaism, to provide the absolute best distance learning rabbinical education possible and to be a leader in Jewish pluralism.
Is this program accredited?
In order to provide the highest quality education at the lowest possible price, the seminary is not academically accredited.
What is the relationship between Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary and Darshan Yeshiva? Are you affiliated with any other organizations?
Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary was founded by Rabbi Sandy Zisser and is run by several rabbis and administrators who in the past, or currently are, part of Darshan Yeshiva. The technological infrastructure of PRS is provided by Darshan Yeshiva, however, PRS is run independently of any other nonprofit organization with its own separate budget and oversight.
Who is your Dean? Leadership?
Rabbi Sandy Zisser is the Founder and Director of Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary. More information about our team can be found here.
Are you a part of the Reform movement? Conservative movement? Orthodox?
While we deeply respect all of those movements, and have educators and administrators who are a part of those denominations, we are a purely post-denominational organization.
How Do You Approach Equal Opportunity and Discrimination?
PRS is committed to the elimination of discrimination and the provision of equal opportunity in education and employment. As a matter of policy and, where applicable, to comply with local, state and federal laws, PRS prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital status, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military service or status, veteran status or any other legally protected status.
Americans With Disabilities Act
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, PRS is committed to making all programs accessible and providing reasonable accommodations for persons with special needs, provided that such accommodations do not impose an undue hardship on PRS. Students needing assistance should contact the Director of PRS.
Policy Against Harassment
PRS is committed to providing and maintaining a working environment free from discrimination and harassment based on a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, national origin, military service status, veteran status and all other legally protected characteristics. PRS will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. All students must avoid offensive or inappropriate behavior at PRS whether directed at an employee, vendor, student, or customer. Each employee is expected to keep PRS free from harassment at all times. Inappropriate or harassing actions, words, jokes, or comments based upon an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, national origin, military service, veteran status and all other legally protected characteristics is prohibited and will not be tolerated.
PRS’s anti-harassment policy applies to all persons involved in the operation of PRS and prohibits unlawful harassment by any employee, agent or affiliate of PRS, including managers, supervisors, and co-workers, as well as vendors, students, visitors, contractors and temporary employees.