The Academy for Jewish Religion is a jewel beyond measure. Its teachers are of the highest caliber, spanning the spectrum from secular to Orthodox, dedicated to advancing the spiritual growth of every student with every assignment. Of course, the school must brag about its alumni in terms of career accomplishments in service to the Jewish community and the world, which are indeed impressive. But the truth is that, even if none of us ever put our studies to use in the workplace, the insights we gained, the friendships we made and the knowledge we absorbed made for life-changing, world-healing advancement for every one of us. I myself went from newspaper editor to rabbi/chaplain, a five-year trajectory that changed my life utterly. A blessing of deepest gratitude on AJR-CA.
A positive contribution AJRCA is making in people's lives. How only he AJRCA could have prepared me for the work I do: Westwood Horizons is a retirement home in Los Angeles which has about 90% Jewish population. Since these Jews have come from all walks of life interms of their religious and cultural backgrounds and spiritual needs, as rabbi of this retirement residence, the AJRCA is the only place that could have possibly prepared me for the awesome task of engaging all seeking Jews in a unified Jewish experience. Coming to the AJR, for me, was to interface with both a multi-demoninational and a non-demoninational Jewish world. Each member of the faculty, student body, administration and board of the AJR all embrace the Judaism of personal choice, but yet, we all are equal building blocks to AJR's home; as no one tradition has more value or weight than the others. The retirees that I work with want Shabbat, holidays and holydays that blend tradition with the fresh spirit of the new century. They are not interested at this point in their lives, in the dogma of any one Jewish way or movement. The way we celebrate our Judaism is a direct result of my years of training at the AJR, and today, when seeking guidance, I draw upon the well of friends, colleagues and spiritual advisors of this great institution.
How can you teach something that can be seen, can't be measured, and can't be felt? By providing a faculty and administration of kind, caring, brilliant minds who patiently encourage and excite you to explore the richness of the Jewish heritage that has defied and withstood the test of time. AJRCA came into my life at a point that I felt I was too old to learn. I was always made to feel special, not different, even when surrounded by those whose levels of observance and belief varied greatly from mine. Talk about a school with Neshama! How many graduate institutions really reach out to develop your personal gifts? AJRCA did that and more for me. The school taught me to be more understanding, less judgemental and a better rabbi than I would have become at another institution. I applaud that they are constanly trying to improve and tweak all the classes through a rigorous review. Further, since the school offers transdenominational training for rabbis, cantors and chaplains, they are not tied to any specific movement allowing staff from every stream of Judaism to serve. It doesn't get any better! I enjoyed my time there so much that I am now proud to be part of the administration.
AJRCA fills an extremely important niche in the training of Jewish clergy, rabbis, cantors, and chaplains. As a mature transitioning professional, the academic program structure allowed me to become a Rabbi while working to sustain myself. The education that I received was comparable to that of other Jewish professional schools and has prepared me to serve the Jewish community in many capacities. I have been a volunteer on the Alumni Executive Board and have been able to mentor incoming students as well as serve the alumni community.
This amazing institution of high level, dedicated teachers provided me with a superb rabbinic training, honoring my life and extensive work experience, allowing me to transition into the field of spiritual leadership in mid-life. A rigorous three-day-a-week program allowed me to maintain my work life and relationships at home in San Diego. while at the same time learning and building a log of new work experiences and professional relationships in Los Angeles. Most moving to me was the opportunity to study with brilliant teachers of all denominations--Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionis, and Renewal--receiving support for my rabbinic vocation even from rabbis in whose congregations I would not be allowed to work!
Because of its unique program geared to individuals who have the responsibilities of work and/or family, the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, allowed me to commute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to fulfill a life-long dream to become a Rabbi. Its transdenominational approach gave me the rounded education I sought; its superb faculty exposed me to some of the finest minds in the country; and my fellow students have become my colleagues as fellow clergy. The main recipients of my experience with AJR,CA have been the grateful and appreciative members of Valley Outreach Synagogue, the congregation for whom I have been the spiritual director since ordination.
I had provided cantorial services for a congregation for many years. I commuted from San Jose to LA to attend AJR and received my rabbinic ordination May 2004. I learned much from my teachers and the other students who came from all of the streams of Jewish practice.
This is a unique institution for training Rabbi's Cantors and chaplains for all parts of the Jewish and broader community. It is structured to facilitate learning by people who work elsewhere while attending school. I myself have studied there and received ordination as a Rabbi/