Rabbinic

Rabbinic Program

Secular Humanistic rabbis are spiritual leaders and philosophic and cultural mentors for Secular Humanistic Jews. They serve as teachers, counselors, pastors, ceremonialists (celebration and ceremonial guides), and experts in Judaism. Since 1992, the IISHJ Rabbinic Program has trained and ordained the future of Secular Humanistic Judaism.


Rabbinic Program Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree (does not need to be in Judaic Studies)
  • Membership in the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement
  • Reading and comprehension proficiency in Hebrew
  • Completion of the application process, including application form, biographical essay, transcript, advance screening, references, application fee
  • Interview with the Admissions Committee

Click here to read more about the professional roles, admission requirements and graduation competencies of a Secular Humanistic rabbi.  For more information or to request an application, go to Admissions and Financial Aid.


Requirements for Ordination

The IISHJ Rabbinic program consists of four years of rigorous course work and a one-year internship with a Secular Humanistic Jewish community. The Rabbinic Program requirements are:

  • Completion of 60 credit hours of graduate seminars
  • Completion of an accredited Master’s Degree in Judaic Studies
  • Completion of a one year internship in a Secular Humanistic Jewish community (3 credit hours)
  • Completion of a rabbinic thesis (3 credit hours)

The thesis requirement is completed under the direction of a designated faculty member and supervised by the Dean for North America. Graduates of the Rabbinic Program will also receive a Master’s Degree in Secular Humanistic Judaism. A summer program in Israel in cooperation with an established secular college or university, or our Israeli partner Tmura IISHJ, is strongly recommended.


Required Seminars

Seminars required for the Rabbinic Program are generally offered during the summer, allowing students to pursue their Master’s Degree studies simultaneously at the university of their choice. All seminars for the Rabbinic Program are offered by the Institute. The rabbinic internship is supervised by the IISHJ Professor of Professional Development.

Jewish History

  • JH 501) Ancient Jewish History and Biblical Literature 1
  • JH 502) Ancient Jewish History and Biblical Literature 2
  • JH 511) Second Temple Jewish History and Literature 1
  • JH 512) Second Temple Jewish History and Literature 2
  • JH 521) Rabbinic History and Literature
  • JH 522) Medieval Jewish History and Literature
  • JH 531) Modern Jewish History 1
  • JH 532) Modern Jewish History 2

Jewish Culture

  • JC 410) Life Cycle Ceremonies
  • JC 501) Jewish Calendar, Holidays, Liturgy and Celebration 1
  • JC 502) Jewish Calendar Holidays, Liturgy and Celebration 2
  • JC 550) Cultural Traditions of the Jewish People – Ashkenazic Culture
  • JC 560) Cultural Traditions of the Jewish People – Sephardic Culture
  • JC 570) Cultural Traditions of the Jewish People – Israeli Culture
  • JC 580) Cultural Traditions of the Jewish People – North American Jewish Culture

Professional Skills

  • PS 400) Jewish Education and Curriculum Planning
  • PS 410) Leadership, Management and Community
  • PS 420) Homiletics
  • PS 430) Philosophic Guidance and Counseling

Secular Humanistic Judaism

  • SHJ 400) Philosophy of Secular Humanistic Judaism
  • SHJ 501) History of Secular Humanistic Judaism 1
  • SHJ 502) History of Secular Humanistic Judaism 2

Rabbinic Internship

The IISHJ Rabbinic Program develops Secular Humanistic Jewish community leaders through both academic study (seminars, questions, papers) and practical experience (fieldwork requirements). Field work for the IISHJ Rabbinic Program is described in the course descriptions for the requisite courses of Rabbinic Internship:

  • PS 444) Rabbinic Internship – Ritual and Celebration in Community
  • PS 445) Rabbinic Internship – Education
  • PS 446) Rabbinic Internship – Life Cycle Ceremony and Counseling
  • PS 447) Rabbinic Internship – Professional Skills
  • The IISHJ Associate Professor of Professional Development is the supervisor of the Rabbinic Internship Program.  
  • The program consists of four different courses equaling 6 credits.  
  • These four courses can be completed in any term or more than one term as long as the required prerequisite courses have been completed and approved.  
  • The internship projects may either be individual projects or a limited number done in cooperation with or “shadowing” a more experienced IISHJ-trained Leader or Association of Humanistic Rabbis (AHR) member Rabbi.   All internship projects should be supervised by an IISHJ trained Leader or AHR member Rabbi or by the IISHJ Associate Professor of Professional Development.
  • Events occurring prior to internship period may be accepted as meeting these requirements where appropriate in consultation with the Internship supervisor.
  • Elements may be combined or substituted where appropriate in consultation with the Internship supervisor.

Click here to read more about the professional roles, admission requirements and graduation competencies of a Secular Humanistic rabbi. You can also find more on the work of the Humanistic rabbinate through the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, or by reading about our alumni.