5th Class Ordination
The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI), led by Rabbi Steven Blane, will ordain its 5th rabbinical class at the Duncan Conference Center in Delray Beach, Florida on July 13th 2013. Students from around the country will attend to share in this spiritual gathering, including one international student from Portugal. Making the Shabbat weekend even more special will be the fact that the group will be meeting in person for the first time, as they have spent the year studying together online.
For most of JSLI’s students, rabbinical ordination has been a life-long goal. Many are already professionals in the Jewish Community- Cantors, Hebrew School Principals and Teachers. Others have spent many years in study and preparation for the rabbinate but simply could not commit to the requirements of mainstream rabbinical schools, including the expense of five years of study and the requirement of moving to Israel for a year.
JSLI classes meet weekly online via an internet conferencing application in which they can see and hear each other. Throughout the year, students must meet other requirements in order to complete the program and obtain Semicha (Rabbinic Ordination). These requirements include, leading weeknight and Shabbat services, teaching a session in an area of their expertise, writing a research paper on a approved Jewish topic and by writing and delivering weekly sermons or Divrei Torah (words of Torah) to the entire class.
JSLI Rabbis serve the needs of modern liberal Jewish communities. It is unique in that it acknowledges the life experience of all its rabbinical students. JSLI’s curriculum covers weekly Torah portions, Jewish Holidays and Festivals, and Halacha (Jewish Religious Law). And, it stresses practical rabbinics at the core of it’s curriculum. Among the many important and relevant topics studied over the year is Interfaith Marriage, Ethical Kashrut and Brit Shalom.
”Traditional denominations of Judaism exclude more than 50 percent of Jews who are unaffiliated or in interfaith marriages. Many people take great joy in Jewish holidays and life-cycle rituals, but simply cannot – or will not – regularly attend synagogue. And they often feel excluded by religious and financial requirements of the mainstream denominations. There’s a huge need for rabbis who can provide spiritual leadership that serves this large and important group, and JSLI fills that need,” says Rabbi Blane.
Rabbi Blane is also a proponent of Jewish Universalism, a concept that he has developed and implemented. JU simply acknowledges that all people are equally close to God and are fully welcome to embrace and participate in all Jewish rituals. “I reject the idea of a God who would choose a favorite child,” says Blane. His commitment to Universalism extends to officiating at interfaith marriages and Civil Wedding Ceremonies in Central Park, and creating and running a successful online synagogue, Sim Shalom (http://www.simshalom.com), which offers Monday through Friday Online Services at 7PM for its global congregation.