Posts Tagged ‘Ellie Roscher’

 

Keeping Faith in Rabbis is Available

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by Hayim Herring

 

Now Available: Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Education

 

Ellie Roscher and I are excited to let you know that you can now order your copy of Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Education. It takes a triad to make a rabbi: educators of rabbis, caring laypeople and individuals who want to become rabbis. Keeping Faith in Rabbis is the only volume that brings these three groups of stakeholders together to explore how rabbis might reshape and cultivate a more robust, outward-looking, inclusive 21st Century American Jewish community. Although I’ve been working on this volume for about a year, it still engages me as I listen to authors’ ideas about new potential pathways for rabbinical education and read about redefined roles for rabbis. And yes—contrary to all studies on contemporary Jewish life–it stills surprises me that some essays assume that tomorrow’s Jewish future will essentially be a reiteration of today’s status quo.

 Hayim-Book

In times of disruption and transition, it’s critical to act. But first it’s important to listen, to share ideas, to debate possibilities and to pilot alternatives. That’s why we also have an online component to expand the conversation: https://www.facebook.com/rabbihayimherring. Just scroll through the page and you can already comment on a video interview with Rabbi Lauren Berkun of Shalom Hartman about the length of rabbinical school, and essays from Rabbi Ellen Lewis a rabbi/psychologist and Lisa Colton and Lianna Levine Reisner, mavens on social media and congregations. In addition, we already have plans or are developing them for public programs in Minneapolis, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, FL and a few other cities. If you’re able to join us for any of these programs, we would love to have you and we’ll keep you posted about program details.

 

Our goal, which our publisher Avenida Books made happen, was to have the book available to you before Chanukah. The Hebrew root meaning of Chanuka is related both to education and dedication—two themes that resonate well with the holiday and the book. Rabbis have been in the news lately, unfortunately involving their ethical violations (in fact there’s an incredibly timely essay in the book on how to address ethical boundary violations). But Keeping Faith in Rabbis is a reminder of the broader need for forward looking and change-oriented discussions on rabbinical education and leadership—reflecting more on its positive aspects, and critiquing and re-conceptualizing 21st Century rabbinical education and leadership. So enjoy the book and please join us in the conversation!

 

Update: Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation About Rabbinical Education

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by Hayim Herring

 
 
This past January, with my co-editor, Ellie Roscher, we put out a call for submissions to a book tentatively titled, Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education. Our call was inspired by Ellie’s prior collection of edited essays on Protestant Seminary education, Keeping the Faith in Seminary. In our new volume, we wanted to explore the question, “How well does rabbinical school prepare rabbis for an ever-changing Jewish religious landscape?” We also hoped to share insights about seminary education from our respective religious communities. Ten months later, because of incredibly caring and dedicated contributors, we’re thrilled to let you know that we have:

 

 

The change in title reflects the number of responses that we received: we realized that we had triggered not just a book, but also an opportunity for a high-quality, constructive conversation.

 

Here’s a small sample of only a few themes from the book:

 

hayim-herring-rabbis-bookIn addition to essays that we selected for the project, we’ll soon be opening the invitation to anyone who wishes to share beneficial ideas on the Keeping Faith in Rabbis web page (to be announced soon!), and we’ll be adding video interviews, online hangouts and additional blog posts for about a year.

 

We’re also taking this conversation to the streets. Our inaugural book launch event will take place in the Minneapolis Metro area on the evening of December 2nd at Bet Shalom Congregation (more details to follow), and we’re planning events for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, the Miami Metro area and a few other selected cities. As Ellie has experience in Protestant theological education and its challenges, some of these events will include experts from the Church world. What also excites us is that we’ll be able to feature some of the essayists who contributed to this book as presenters, and other professionals in the field of rabbinical education and higher education in general. If you’re interested in having a community conversation about this topic, please contact me at hayim@hayimherring.com.

 

The “High Holidays” (Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur) are just a few weeks away, and we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the release of the Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans. It’s timely to think about the kind of spiritual tomorrows we want to have, and the role that rabbis, rabbinical educators and lay leaders can play in achieving it. We encourage you to pre-order the book now at http://ktfrabbi.avenidabooks.com. And, given how high the stakes are, we hope that you’ll join the ongoing conversation.

 

 

Lay People Welcome: Share Your Thoughts on 21st Century Rabbinical Education!

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by Hayim Herring No Comments

 

 

As my co-editor, Ellie Roscher and I, are receiving essays for our latest research project and book, Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education, we’re already beginning to hear an unprecedented, multi-vocal conversation. Our goal is to understand from rabbis in the field and educators of rabbis how rabbinical education needs to grow and shift to be relevant in the 21st century. But – several weeks ago I realized that I only had two of the three sets voices needed for this book project. Your voice – those of you who have ongoing interactions with rabbis, or who had them in the past, need to be represented in this book. Why?

 

Generally, with the exception of much of the Orthodox world, the goal of rabbinical school is not to become a rabbi. Rather, it is to serve Jewish people as a camp or school educator, congregational rabbi, chaplain, Hillel director or in some other way. So, how could I not invite those of you who are not rabbis to add an essay to this volume?! After all, you are the intended beneficiaries of rabbinical education.

 

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Rough Realities of the Rabbinate

Posted on: February 24th, 2014 by Hayim Herring No Comments

 

 

“There’s something happening here, But what it is ain’t exactly clear…”
Why Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education

 

Someone asked me, “Why are you working on Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education (KTF Rabbinical), a book about 21st Century rabbinical education?”

 

As I take a call from another rabbi in crisis, hear another lament about a rabbi from a congregant, read an additional mean-spirited attack in the Jewish Daily Forward against a denomination and generally observe congregations around the country, I keep thinking of the refrain from a song titled “For What It’s Worth,” popularly known as “Stop Children What’s that Sound.” (Trivia buffs: according to Wikipedia, Stephen Stills wrote this song in November 1966, and the band that he was then a part of, Buffalo Springfield, recorded it a few weeks later.)

 

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear…

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

 

People kvetching about rabbis in whatever capacity they work, and rabbis complaining about their constituents is an old story. But the rate at which I’ve seen some really outstanding rabbis lose their jobs for no good reason, or the depth of dissatisfaction that lay people have with some rabbis for good reason, seems to be more pervasive than only a couple of decades ago.

 

“There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear…”

 

Is it that:
• As American Jews, we are very far removed from the time where the rabbi was the most educated person in the community, and therefore the rabbi is not respected automatically?

 

• Clergy scandals tainted the expectations that lay leaders have of rabbis as exemplars of morality?

 

• The “What have you done for me lately mentality?” that has eroded longstanding business relationships, has crept into relationships with rabbis?

 

• The culture of disdain for authority figures has expanded to include rabbis?

 

• The extent to which social media’s ability to dispense global gossip on momentary notice fueled tensions between volunteers and rabbis?

 

• Rabbis rightfully expect to be treated as professionals, but we did not understand that meant evaluations, performance reviews and measurable outcomes: a skill set that most rabbis don’t have, and a mindset that often recoils from this kind of orientation toward the sacred.

 

• The consumerist mentality of shopping, combined with the Internet and the mainstreaming of Jewish culture, means that shopping for rabbis, Jewish education, Jewish ritual is an “anyone, anytime, anywhere” option?

 

I’m working on Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education because I want to help rabbis and their respective constituents grow together at a time when they seem to be growing further apart. Nothing less than the quality of Jewish life in the United States is at stake. And by exploring the education and continuing education of rabbis, I believe that we’ll gain clarity on which of the above dynamics are immutable and which are amenable to positive change. If you know a rabbi, are a rabbi or educator of rabbis, click here to learn more about submitting an essay for consideration to this volume. And volunteer leaders who care about high-quality rabbinical education—stay tuned, you’ll soon be receiving an invitation, too.

 

 

KTF team: Rabbi Hayim Herring, Andrew Barron, owner/publisher Avenida Books, co-editor, Ellie Roscher.

KTF team: Rabbi Hayim Herring, Andrew Barron, owner/publisher Avenida Books, co-editor, Ellie Roscher.

 

I Never Knew I Had it Within Me – Do You?

Posted on: February 19th, 2014 by Hayim Herring No Comments

I never had aspirations to write an article or book and have it published. I couldn’t even see it on my long-term horizon. But at a rabbis’ retreat in the 1990’s, in a session where we were asked to explore our dreams, I wrote the words, “I want to write a book.”

 

To this day, it’s still a mystery where this urge emanated from, but subsequently, I slowly began to own the possibility of authoring a book. I guess that was a shorthand way of intuiting that I had something within me to say that I needed to see in writing, although I was skeptical that anyone else would really care. While years passed before I published my first article, that session catapulted my unconscious thoughts into concrete realities.

 

Today, the tools of publishing have been democratized and are easily accessible to just about anyone who wants to be an author. But making the leap from teacher and preacher, to writer with a permanent record, can still be emotionally daunting. I asked my friend and co-editor of Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education, Ellie Roscher, to share her thoughts on making that transition. We’re doing so with the hope that rabbis who have a story to tell about their rabbinical education will feel empowered to finally liberate that story within them for our forthcoming publication or, for that matter, to share their wisdom and spirit with the world in a way that suits them.

 

And Ellie’s Advice….

“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” ~ Sylvia Plath

I have always loved writing. I was surprised, then, when it was time to publish my first blog post. My palms got sweaty. My heart started to race. I learned in that moment that writing to publish is vastly different than writing to write. It is shockingly vulnerable to send your work, what feels like your life out into the unknown abyss. There is no controlling who will read it and what they will think. But when my thoughts and stories inspire something completely unexpected in a stranger, something new is born. The text comes alive. And all the work– the notes, the word choice, the deleting, the doubt and research is all worth it. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

 

1) Don’t try too hard to create a style. Your style is simply what you notice about the world. Pay attention and then write what you see and think about. Your style will emerge effortlessly from that.

 

2) Never sit down to a blank screen without an idea. Talk to friends about your idea until you can articulate it verbally with ease. Write sentences in your head while you are driving or walking. People tend to be braver about deleting bad sentences in their head than once they are typed out. If you have a few ideas and sentences in your head when you sit down to type, you may be more playful, and less nervous about writer’s block.

 

3) When output feels hard, change your input to output ratio. Read great books, listen to stimulating podcasts, take in nature, put on fantastic music, sip your favorite wine. Take in a ton of beauty and then try again.

 

4) Read your work aloud when you think it is finished. If a sentence sounds forced coming out of your mouth, it may read forced as well. If you can read your writing aloud without strain, that means it is clear, conversational, effective communication that is distinctly “you.” Great way to find typos and listen for rhythm that feels natural.

 

Writing is hard work, but it’s good work. Write to find out what you really think about something, to deepen your own self-reflection. Be unabashedly selfish in writing for your own self-improvement and for fun. Find the beauty of your story. Send it to one person you trust when you think it is ready. Listen to how the sentences feel in your mouth. Send it out into the world and see where it chooses to live. Let yourself be surprised and deeply proud of your courage.