Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This is Scary - Rabbis get 'virtual' smicha (rabbinic ordination)

Note from The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter:
Considering the issues that The Awareness Center addresses on a daily basis, how do you feel about orthodox rabbis being ordained on line? If our rabbis can find a way to ordain rabbis on line, why can't they find a way to revoke an ordination from a rabbi is a sex offender?

Reading the article below reminds me of a site which anyone can instantly become ordained member of the clergy:
http://www.themonastery.org/ Once ordained, you will be given the legal status to perform weddings, etc.

Three newly ordained rabbis from Germany, holding certificates, who received their training through the Internet.

Unable to study in Israel, rabbis
learn in online ‘virtual’ yeshiva

By Toby Axelrod
January 21, 2007

BERLIN, Jan. 21 (JTA) — Germany has three new rabbis thanks to a virtual yeshiva.

Benzion Dov Kaplan, Donnell Reed and Yitzhak Mendel Wagner received their ordination Jan. 2 from the Jerusalem-based Shulchan Aruch Learning Program of Pirchei Shoshanim. The Orthodox smicha ceremony, which also included several other candidates, took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

But since Kaplan, Reed and Wagner couldn’t leave Germany to study in Israel, the program enabled them to complete their training via Skype, the Internet telephone service, and other Internet sites, Reed said.

Reed, 41, an American who has lived in Berlin for 18 years, said the program allowed him to study Torah in the morning and evening while continuing to manage his business and spend time with his family. When he had questions, he turned to the Chabad rabbi in Berlin, Yehudah Teichtal.

Wagner, 27, from the city of Krefeld, studies Judaism at the University of Dusseldorf. For years he has been involved in local Jewish life, and now will head the community’s adult education programs.

Kaplan, 30, came to Germany from Ukraine and works as a rabbinical assistant for the Jewish community of Dusseldorf, which has co-sponsored his studies.

Germany has fewer than 30 ordained rabbis, not enough to serve its growing Jewish community. Official membership in the community has quadrupled to about 120,000 with the influx since 1990 of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Unofficially there may be as many as 200,000 Jews in Germany.

In the fall, three rabbis were ordained by the Reform Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, the first rabbinical program to grant ordination in Germany since the Nazis closed down Jewish schools. Teichtal also has seen some of his students become rabbis.

Another institution in Berlin, the Orthodox Yeshivas Beis Zion-Lauder College at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center, has some 30 male students, some of whom may pursue ordination, according to Rabbi Josh Spinner, vice president of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.

But the recent ordination in Jerusalem is likely the first that depended largely on Internet telephoning. Few of the candidates had seen each other until they met in Israel, Reed said.

According to Reed, the three Germans studied together over Skype and Virtual Yeshiva several times a week for two-and-a-half years.

They plan to continue their Internet studies together, and are hoping to find Russian-speaking men in Germany to join them.

Though it may seem somewhat unorthodox to learn over the Internet, Reed said several noted rabbis have endorsed the idea. Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, once told him that since Jews are urged to learn “while you sit in your home and while you walk on the way,” they ought to take advantage of modern technology to do so, Reed said.


Anonymous The Answer said...

These programs typically require an in-person test in Israel. The article seems to say as much.

January 23, 2007 12:33 PM  
Anonymous The Question said...

Would you want to go to a medical doctor who got his degree on line? Aren't rabbis supposed to be like "spiritual doctors". I think one of the biggest problems with many rabbis is the lack the ability to communicate with the average person. If someone studies to be a rabbi on line, how much personal contact will they have with the outside world?

Also by not being with others daily how will one know if this rabbi in training has what it takes to really be a rabbi?

January 23, 2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Oylem Goylem said...

Some brick & mortar yeshivos issue smicha that's completely worthless anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if this online deal is more genuine.

Have you ever met a "musmach" from some joke, no name yeshiva? They usually don't know much Yoreh Deah and not much else for that matter either.

January 23, 2007 6:11 PM  

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