Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education

definition of faith“I tend to pay attention when work feels easy,” I told Hayim over the phone. “From the first moment, our work together has seemed easy. I think that’s a good sign.”

While I was still living in Manhattan, I got a message on LinkedIn from Rabbi Hayim Herring, Ph.D. He read about Keeping the Faith in Seminary, my first editing project with Avenida Books, and said he shared similar interests. “Do you ever get back to Minnesota?” he asked.

I replied that I was actually moving back to Minnesota in August, and we set a date to meet. Driving to meet him at a coffee shop for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I mostly expected to have a friendly coffee conversation and go back home. I thought about my mentor in college, Dr. Jodock, who got me interested in Jewish-Christian dialogue a decade ago. I thought about two Orthodox Jewish women who had independently become two of my best friends over several Shabbat evening meals together in New York City. A good, heartening interfaith conversation would have been enough. We were both surprised.

I liked Rabbi Herring (“No, please call me Hayim.”) immediately. He was warm, funny, and asked me interesting questions about the seminary project. He was struck by the similar challenges facing congregations in our respective faith communities. We exchanged books. I gave him a copy of Keeping the Faith in Seminary, and he gave me a copy of Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today. And by the end of the conversation, he asked if I would be willing to work on a replica project of Keeping the Faith in Seminary within the Jewish context. I said yes. Just like that. As I said, I tend to pay attention when work seems easy. And just a few months later, the book project is a reality.

ktfI am excited and honored to introduce Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education: a collection of stories and essays from rabbis across the denominational spectrum and academics exploring the relationship between the realities of professional life and seminary. “How well did your rabbinical program prepare you for your Rabbinate?” It’s exciting to see the original Protestant conversation inspire an inter-faith dialogue. And it’s thrilling for me to be invited to be a part of that.

Please spread the word to those who may be interested in the project. Essay submissions are due May 12, 2004 with a projected launch date of Hanukkah, December 2014. The official call of submissions is listed below.

And if you’d like to read Rabbi Herring’s account of our first meeting, you can find it HERE.

Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education

Rabbi Hayim Herring, Ph.D. with Ellie Roscher Avenida Books
Call for Submissions: Due May 12, 2014

“When I graduated from Seminary, I knew all of the answers, but the problem was my congregants were asking the wrong questions.” —Rabbi Harold Kushner

Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education is a collection of stories and essays from rabbis across the denominational spectrum addressing the question, “How well did your rabbinical program prepare you for your Rabbinate?” This book celebrates the work of rabbis who strive to create vibrant Jewish communities where individuals and families can express and explore Jewish meaning. Unmediated voices will provide insights to all stakeholders in Jewish education, especially now in light of the recently released Pew study, A Portrait of Jewish Americans. It will be a tool used to better equip rabbis for congregational leadership in the ever-changing Jewish religious landscape.

We invite rabbis and academics to explore the relationship between the realities of professional life and seminary. This invitation is for rabbis who serve congregations, college campuses, day schools, and any other Jewish organizations, including new start-ups as well as those working in rabbinical education. Please submit essays and stories to Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education on or before May 12, 2014. Although there is no length requirement or restriction, we anticipate essays and stories will run between 5 and 20 pages and can range in tone from personal story to academic essay. Rabbis from all denominations as well as non-denominational rabbis are welcome to contribute. Submission does not guarantee publication.

Guiding Questions:

  1. Are you able to nurture your personal spiritual life now that you are helping to nurture the spirituallives of congregants?
  2. When you had your first crisis in the congregation, whom did you call?
  3. What are you passionate about in your work? Did the seeds of this passion emerge in rabbinicalschool, or did they develop once you began congregational work?
  4. How does rabbinical education need to grow and shift to be relevant in a changing world?
  5. Has the issue of clergy sexual abuse been a topic of discussion in your congregation?
  6. When you began working in a congregation, many of your congregants already perceived you as aleader of a congregation. At what point did you begin to perceive yourself as a leader?
  7. What kinds of discussions have you had in your congregation about sexuality, gender and maritalstatus?
  8. Along the journey to becoming a rabbi, you likely made some significant sacrifices (number ofyears in school, tuition costs, transitions to different campuses, etc.). Now that you have some experience of being a congregational rabbi, what are your thoughts about restructuring rabbinical school so that future students might experience fewer pressures?
  9. Is there some overarching theological narrative of Jewish life that lends a greater coherence to the many discrete activities of your rabbinate?

Please submit your essay and cover letter with complete contact information to submissions@avenidabooks.com on or before May 12, 2014. The projected publication date of Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education is Hanukkah, December, 2014, a purposeful time to shed light on the challenges of rabbinical education.

You may direct any questions to info@avenidabooks.com. This will be the third publication in the Keeping the Faith series. Please go to avenidabooks.com for more information on the full series.