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Renewal article at JTA

Sue Fishkoff from JTA was at Ohalah last week, looking on and taking notes. As a result, there's an article up at JTA now about the smicha ceremony, the Aleph ordination programs, and Jewish Renewal in general.

The piece does a nice job of explaining how my program works, and what some of its strengths are. My only quibble is with the assertion that the program can take "from two to ten years." (It's the "two" that seems implausible to me. Perhaps if one entered the Aleph program having already received smicha elsewhere? Otherwise, my understanding is that the program takes at least five years of fulltime study.) Anyway, here's how the piece begins:

Karyn Berger, a slight, dark-haired woman wearing a royal blue prayer shawl, steps up to the microphone to introduce herself and her four colleagues. All are about to be ordained as Jewish Renewal spiritual leaders — two rabbis, two rabbinic pastors and one cantor.

"We were born in Austria, Budapest, the Bronx, Toronto and Oklahoma," she begins. "We grew up atheist, Reform kosher, socialist-Zionist. Two of us went to Orthodox yeshivas. Our average age is 49, and collectively we’ve been married for 75 years."

When the laughter dies down, Berger, a doctoral student of medieval Arabic and Hebrew poetry, continues more seriously.

"All five of us got our call to serve, and here we are," she said. "Our calling is to heal souls — the souls of the Jewish people."

Read the whole thing here: Renewal wants to keep same spirit while standardizing rabbis' training.

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