Not everybody who seeks intensive Jewish study wants to become a member of the clergy. Now there is a new program just for those folks. The Academy for Jewish Religion California (AJRCA), a unique seminary in Los Angeles that trains rabbis, cantors and chaplains, now offers Master’s in Jewish Studies Degree programs to meet those desires. A trans-denominational and innovative institution, AJRCA attracts students from the entire West Coast, and these new Community Leadership programs are the latest innovation in the school’s programming.
Students who complete one of these programs will receive the Master’s degree and will have competencies useful to synagogues, agencies, Jewish centers and faith-based programs that welcome a variety of religious participants. They will have a choice of four specializations: Jewish Communal Life focuses on developing awareness of organizational issues, community resources, group process and peer counseling skills in specific contexts relevant to Jewish communities. The Jewish Values and Ethics track addresses critical issues facing the world and how we can “bring Jewish values and ethics to bear on our society.” This track provides students with a foundation in classical biblical and rabbinic literature and includes seminars in contemporary Jewish ethics. The Music in Jewish Life specialization will enrich the student’s access to musical resources and ability to implement that knowledge in the context of Jewish community. Those pursuing the Interfaith Relations in Jewish Communities track explore our contemporary family, local and global communal reality along with practitioners and believers in many non-Jewish religious and humanistic traditions.
The Master’s degree in Jewish Studies requires a total of 48 quarter units in addition to Hebrew language requirements, which differ in each track. Students can complete the Master’s degree in less than two years, but since there is no time limit, there is also great flexibility. AJRCA has always taken into consideration students who have outside commitments, so classes are offered on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, these classes will be hybrid classes, where students will have a choice between on-line and face-to face interaction with a culminating capstone seminar. Potential students may also try out up to three classes before they are required to complete the application process.
“There is an enormous amount of talent in the Jewish community,” said Tamar Frankiel, President of AJRCA, “and many who aspire to leadership positions may not want to take on the full role of clergy.” This is the program for them. For more information, go to www.ajrca.edu.
Florence L. Dann, a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in L.A., has been a contributing writer to JLife since 2004. She served as the Vice President of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation West Coast and currently teaches English as Second Language to adults.