To become a guide of Judaism, you will need to study at a rabbinical school.
If you want to study Judaism, but don't want to become a religious leader,
you may also consider a Jewish studies program.
A Jewish studies program is usually found in an arts or humanities faculty. Programs
cover many areas -- languages, literature, history, religion, archeology,
philosophy, sociology -- as they relate to the Jewish experience.
Before enrolling, high school students should take Hebrew, says
Steven Fine, a professor at Baltimore Hebrew University in Maryland. He also
recommends that students visit Israel.
But B. Barry Levy, dean of religious studies at a university, adds that
many students start with little prior knowledge and still do well in the program.
"If one cannot take Hebrew and Jewish studies courses in preparation, the
best thing to do is study world history and world literature, particularly
in the geographic areas populated by Jews," he says.
Communication, writing and thinking skills are extremely important, adds
Jewish studies programs have changed considerably in the past decade. "There
has been an explosion of literature on all aspects of Jewish studies," says
Vicki Caron, a Jewish studies professor at Cornell University. "As a result, courses
are more specialized than they used to be."
For example, Caron teaches a very specific course on modern French Jewish
history. Also, she says, there are considerable resources for teaching the
Holocaust and the history of Zionism (the movement to establish the Jewish
state of Israel).
In addition, Jewish studies are no longer seen as being just for Jews.
Levy's program offers a course on the Holocaust. Most students in this class
are not Jewish.
The requirements are stricter for students considering becoming a rabbi.
To enter a rabbinical school, first and foremost, you must be Jewish. This
is very unlike Jewish studies, where people of all faiths take courses.
Rabbinical school is a five-year graduate program. That means entering
students must hold an undergraduate degree. They may choose to do it in a
field such as Hebrew or Jewish studies, or a different field.
The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City also requires students
to have completed a year of study in Israel and have taken one year of college-level
Hebrew. In addition, once accepted into a rabbinical program, graduate
students will spend a year of their five-year program in Israel and will also
complete an internship.
The heart of the curriculum is the study of the classical texts of Judaism
-- Torah and commentaries; rabbinic literature, including Talmud, codes and
Midrash; liturgy and literature.
Besides eventual ordination, graduates of the rabbinical schools will also
be awarded a master of arts in Hebrew letters.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Rabbis
An online encyclopedia of Judaism
Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education
Dedicated to teaching Judaism