American Judaism’s Great Rabbi Shortage

More than ever, Conservative and Reform Jews in the U.S. want to be part of small congregations with ample opportunities for intimate interactions with their rabbis. But at the same time, enrollment at the major non-Orthodox seminaries is down. Paula Jacobs explains:

When Rabbi Irwin Kula attended the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) rabbinical school 40-plus years ago, his studies emphasized a text-based, academic approach. And when he was ordained in 1982, most of his class of approximately 40 rabbinical graduates—all white and male—took pulpit jobs. In spring 2023, JTS plans to ordain twelve rabbis and three cantors—a diverse group of graduates in terms of gender, age, and sexual orientation, as well as Jewish and professional [backgrounds], but far smaller than Kula’s class. The current first-year class at the Conservative seminary is even smaller, consisting of seven rabbinical and five cantorial students.

Nor is JTS alone. Non-Orthodox rabbinical schools across America are experiencing a significant decline in enrollment, affecting both these institutions and the American Jewish community at large as the demand for rabbis exceeds supply, particularly as baby boomers retire and others leave because of burnout. . . . But rabbis are still in demand—a demand that outstrips supply, even as congregations shrink. This year, like last year, the Conservative movement—50 percent of whose rabbis in North America serve congregations—anticipates a shortage of rabbis to fill available positions.

Yet, as Jacobs goes on to detail, the seminaries are seeking new ways to keep up with these changes—and there is even some reason for optimism.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbis, Reform Judaism


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security