September 4, 2013

Learning from Our Jewish Brothers and Sisters

A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with my neighbor, Julie. Julie just graduated from college with a degree in Jewish studies. She had been accepted into rabbinical school in late spring and plans to become a cantor.

Julie described her course of study for the next five years--yes, persons who want to be a rabbi or cantor spend five years in graduate school. She told me the first year she and all other rabbinical/cantorial students across the United States would live and study in Israel. These students live in apartments, taking a rigorous schedule of classes.

I was so glad to spend time with Julie before she left for Israel. I know she will have wonderful year, studying and experiencing immersion into the Jewish culture. I also thought about those who study in Protestant seminaries. What if these students were required to spend a year in Israel too? What meaning and depth could come from spending time where Jesus walked and taught while studying the gospels, the letters, and other books in the New Testament. Lectures by the Sea of Galilee, advent meditations in Bethlehem--what enriching experiences could happen!
I am also aware of the great number of second career clergy (Are there similar numbers in the Jewish faith?) The challenges of second career clergy are many. Would a year away from home be practical?
I do admire Julie's path, which began when she was in third grade attending Hebrew school one day a week when she finished her regular school day, to learn to read and write Hebrew. She truly began studying to be a cantor when she was eight. Now she is twenty-two. I have mentored three students in recent years during the four month course of confirmation planned by my church. I remember the struggle getting students to commit to this period of time, and our classes were not always weekly.
What can we learn from our Jewish friends--about seminary education--about training  our children in the faith? 
Jacquie Reed 
Fishers, Indiana

No comments:

Post a Comment