In Year 1, students will be introduced to all of the core skills necessary to ensure that they can interface properly with communities. Students will be expected in Years 2-5 to fulfil certain congregational commitments of increasing challenge and, therefore, Year 1 is designed as an opportunity to ensure that basic skills are introduced and developed. The modules include, Service Leading Skills, Listening Skills, Homiletics, Reflective Skills and Education.
In Years 2 & 4 these basic skills are developed, deepened and honed in more directed courses, looking at specific core areas of rabbinic work. These include life cycle events; death, dying and bereavement; social action; spirituality; Jewish festivals; and mental health. In each of these areas students will be introduced to theory, practice, pastoral components and Jewish values.
In Year 3, students will spend one day a week through the year embedded in the key Jewish social welfare providers in the UK – Jewish Care and Norwood, primarily (though where appropriate other Jewish welfare organisations may be introduced to students as well). Here students will experience the full range of work undertaken by these organisations, including care homes, mental health services, family and child services, counselling services, services relating to long- and short-unemployment, disability, etc. Students will work with long- term volunteers to experience many, if not all, of these core areas of work. Students will participate in volunteer training through Jewish Care. Finally, students will meet regularly with a member of faculty at Leo Baeck College (both in groups and individually) to facilitate amalgamation of this learning into their growth as rabbinic students. There is also a second education module.
In Year 5, students will focus on the acquisition of leadership and management skills at an advanced level, particularly those skills relevant to synagogue development, change management and the pastoral needs of communities. Students will study both the academic research on these issues, particularly as it is relevant to faith communities, and reflect on their own experience in placements in congregations in relation to these topics. Students will also participate in the module entitled ‘Transition to the Rabbinate’ as part of the MA which enables students to reflect on their transformation from student rabbi to rabbi and engage in discussion based on students’ practical experience in congregational placements.
This course is about thinking and learning from experience. Rabbinic work is complex and unpredictable; rabbis will meet new challenges throughout their lives, which they cannot prepare for in a direct or formal sense. But they can become reflective thinkers and practitioners, learning from these experiences, and using them to tackle new situations. This course introduces practical experience of reflective techniques designed to enable students to learn from both vocational and academic experience, as well as their theoretical background. The course also functions as valuable ‘group time’ at the end of each academic week, enabling the class to talk as a group about their experiences as new rabbinic students, and to adjust to the demands of the rabbinic course. It is the only session each week which is focussed on talking together and learning from and about each other.
This module is designed to be a practical introduction to one of the rabbi’s key functions, that of preacher, and key skills, preparing and delivering intelligent, accessible and Jewishly-well-informed sermons. Students will be guided through the essential areas of resource material, both classic and contemporary, will learn the key skills that are needed to write a good sermon, and the methodology of sermon delivery. They will be instructed on techniques for sermons across the spectrum, from Shabbat, Festival and Days of Awe sermons to wedding address and funeral eulogies.
The course will introduce the students to the various components of active listening. It will allow them to reflect on and develop their listening skills with a view to interacting more effectively with fellow professionals and congregants.
It will be experiential and focus on exercises based on the sort of experiences which rabbinic students and rabbis are likely to have with congregants. It will be student focused so that there will be flexibility about the programme, depending on the needs and wishes of the group.
This vocational course will look at, and provide opportunities for the practice of, the role of the rabbi in leading services in a variety of different contexts.
We will consider the importance of worship in congregational life and the way in which the service leader can affect the experience of the congregation. We will identify the variables which a service leader must consider in planning a service, the different types of services rabbis may lead, and we will study theories of service design including use of language, and music. The course will not include formal training in voice projection, but will analyse how service leaders use their voices and body language.
The course will include study of academic research and best practice, time to reflect on student’s own experiences, and practical exercises where possible. Students will be asked to attend a variety of different services and to reflect on what they have seen and experienced. Students will be asked to consider their own preferences in prayer and to think about how these can be accommodated in the role as service leader.
Students will leave the course with their own checklist to use in preparation for leading services during their time as rabbinic students.
This module examines two distinct topics in education which are central to the work of a congregational rabbi. The first deals with curriculum development. It provides students with the tools to critically evaluate different curricula, understand the evolution of curriculum design and theory and provides some of the basic approaches to creating new curricula. The second half of the modules is devoted to the notion of supervision, appraisal, staff development and effective management. All these will enhance the congregational rabbi’s ability to manage staff effectively.
This is a foundation course on the whole Jewish life cycle. Teaching is based on classical Jewish texts, Jewish folk customs, practical rabbinics and developing pastoral judgement in this key area of congregational work.
This course is part lecture format and part seminar, presenting strategies for helping congregants to create personal and communal meaning from their experience of the Jewish Festival Cycle. As part of the course both traditional and alternative resources will be considered.
This module explores a range of philosophical, psychological and curricula issues facing the Jewish educational leader. Different concepts and theories of leadership and management are reviewed as well as the skills, behaviours and competencies educational leaders need. The module offers students an opportunity to be reflective about their style of leadership and begin to understand what further work they need to pursue in order to develop as educational leaders.
This module prepares the student to deal with the inevitable distress that at some point they will come across in their professional duties. It will allow the student to distinguish between “normal” distress, and situations that might need professional advice.
The module will not turn the student into a psychiatrist, but give the student sufficient information and confidence to be able to deal effectively with a congregant who is disturbed and in need of support.
This course is a discussion-based examination of both the practical and underlying aspects of death, dying and bereavement when it comes to rabbinic practice.
This module will focus on three aspects of spirituality in the Rabbinate. Students will have an opportunity to explore their own sense of personal spirituality and engage in a range of spiritual practices. Students will also reflect on what it means to be a spiritual leader and how spirituality can be both a struggle and a gift in the Rabbinic role. Finally, students will learn some of the theory of Livui Ruchani (Spiritual Accompaniment) and start to think about how this might be useful in their Rabbinate. The course will include a number of practical assignments.
The Tikkun Olam module prepares rabbis to be a source of inspiration and support to create congregational social action in the UK, working to fulfil our obligations to be God’s partners in working to repair the world. You will solidify your understanding of the Judaic foundations for Tikkun Olam. You will learn practical skills and models, including techniques of community organising and skills for working with volunteers, to build and support congregational social action.