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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 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 is broken down as follows:
Admissions Fee: $250.00
Monthly Tuition: $800.00
Textbooks: $50.00 or less per month
Graduation Fee: $250.00
Students can save on the cost of the program in three ways:
- Participate in our Rabbinic Fellowships
- Pay annually or in full (saves $1,200.00)
- Careful purchasing of digital textbooks. Twenty four of our forty courses require digital textbooks available from Amazon.com. These textbooks range in 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?
Our first cohort begins January 1st, 2020. The deadline to join this cohort is December 1st, 2019.
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 six types of online learning methods utilized in our program. Learn more here.
Do I need special technology?
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:
BA-level Classical and Modern Hebrew (refer to our Hebrew practice exam to better understand this)
BA-level knowledge of Tanakh and Jewish history
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
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?
This can vary depending on if a student participates in our Rabbinic Apprenticeship, utilizes our interest-free monthly payment plan, or is vigilant in how they purchase their digital text books.
How does payment work?
Students can pay in full for each year, by quarter, or take advantage of an interest-free monthly payment plan across two years.
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.