Become a part of the future of Judaism in America.
APPLYING TO AJR’S ORDINATION PROGRAMS
The decision to pursue cantorial or rabbinic studies is typically the result of a process of reflection and preparation. As Dean of Admissions, Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor serves as the applicant’s guide and mentor through this process, which may culminate in a formal application to an ordination program.
The first step will be an initial conversation where the applicant and the Dean of Admissions will become more familiar with each other. After that first conversation, the applicant may be asked to complete a preliminary questionnaire. Most inquiries then lead to an invitation to spend a day or part of a day visiting classes and meeting with students, faculty, and staff. The Academy community is unique and best evaluated in person.
A person considering applying to an ordination program should be seriously and actively involved in Jewish study and Jewish living. Rabbinic and cantorial study should not be thought of as a continuation of adult study. Rather, it is a high-level, profound education leading to a career as a spiritual leader in the Jewish community.
To learn more about the application process, click here.
BEFORE YOU APPLY
It is advantageous to have gained some leadership experience in the Jewish community. You may have assisted in leading services or have experience teaching in a congregation or havurah. You may have served in a volunteer capacity on a committee or board of a synagogue or some other Jewish organization. You may have studied in a local Jewish adult learning setting either in North America or in Israel. You are a person already deeply involved in Jewish life.
Initial phone and email contacts will indicate whether a preliminary interview is the appropriate next step. This Interview is required before a formal application to AJR may be filed. As stated above, we strongly recommend that you spend a day or so visiting classes at AJR to get a feel for our community and our approach to rabbinic/cantorial studies. We also recommend that you arrange to speak with several rabbis or cantors about their life and work, and, if at all possible, you should arrange to shadow a rabbi or cantor for a day or two. This will give invaluable insight into the true nature of the profession.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The Academy for Jewish Religion welcomes applicants from a variety of paths in Jewish religious life. The AJR community, students and faculty, represent a broad range of approaches to Jewish life. We expect that applicants will have visited and prayed with a variety of Jewish communities and will be well informed about current issues affecting American and world Jewry.
The entrance requirements for our programs can be found here.
If proceeding with formal application is the appropriate next step, you will receive an application packet and guidance in completing the application. If you are not invited to apply at that time, you may be offered suggestions as to steps that you might undertake to prepare for a future review of your status. Details regarding the application process are in the application packet. Preparation of all required materials is the responsibility of the applicant. We ask that the full application be submitted only after all of the required materials and copies have been assembled.
HEBREW LANGUAGE AND JEWISH STUDIES PROFICIENCY EXAMS
Proficiency in Hebrew, as well as familiarity with basic Jewish texts and practice, is essential to serious Jewish study. We encourage you to begin your Hebrew studies as soon as possible. You will be asked to take our Hebrew qualifying exam to assess your level of proficiency. Our office will provide you with a list of books to help you prepare for the exam. You are not required to pass the Hebrew exam in order to be offered admission to AJR. You may be invited for an interview with the Admissions committee and be offered a place. Matriculation would be conditional upon successfully completing the Hebrew exam within one year of admission. You may be encouraged to enroll in the Mechina Program to help bring you to entry-level study.
Three essays are required. There are two options for how to present the essays. They can be presented in writing, typed, double-spaced, not to exceed a combined total of ten pages in length. They can also be presented orally at AJR to two members of the admission committee on a date in advance of the interview date. Please share your preference with the Dean of Admissions. Both Rabbinic and Cantorial applicants submit a personal history and spiritual autobiography including Jewish background and journey, interest in and vision for the rabbinate or cantorate, and reasons for applying to AJR along with a statement of your personal theology and religious practice, your understanding of God and Torah, your relationship to the Jewish community and the State of Israel. In addition, a third essay is written in response to a quote provided in the application.
Every applicant is required to be interviewed by a psychotherapist approved by AJR. A confidential report of this interview is sent to the Admissions Committee. This interview is designed to provide information on the suitability of a candidate to undertake rabbinic or cantorial studies. This report is confidential and will be available only to members of the Admissions Committee and senior administrative staff. Applicants are asked to sign a waiver of right of access to the psychological report.
The Admissions Committee is charged with making all decisions concerning admission to AJR ordination programs. The Committee is composed of senior administrators, faculty members and alumni. The interview for rabbinic applicants includes the presentation of a D’var Torah of eight to ten minutes duration.
The interview for cantorial applicants includes an audition. Each candidate should prepare four or five pieces, from which the Committee will select two or three for performance. The selections should acquaint the Committee with the full range of vocal and interpretive abilities; at least three pieces should be drawn from the Jewish repertoire, one representing traditional cantorial style and one in a more informal style.
Applicants are usually informed of the Committee’s decision within one week of the interview. An application may be accepted without conditions or accepted with stipulations or conditions. If an application is rejected, guidance may be given concerning the interval that should elapse before a re-application would be considered. An acceptance to the Academy for Jewish Religion is valid until the beginning of the semester following the anniversary of the interview date.
Full details and explanation of all matters concerning application to AJR are contained within the Admissions Materials, and the Dean of Admissions will be glad to offer general guidance and to respond to any questions.