Unique Initiative Helps Rabbis Make Jewish Wisdom an Accessible Resource and Prepares Them for the Changing Religious Landscape
Rabbis Without Borders (RWB), Clal’s landmark initiative that helps rabbis make Jewish thought and practice more available for improving people’s lives, selected its third class for its competitive rabbinic fellowship program. More than 90 applicants competed for the 22 spots. Of those selected, Marc Soloway from Boulder, Colo., was picked for this prestigious program.
Said Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, RWB Director,
Interest in the program has only increased over the years. Rabbis recognize that the religious environment has changed – from family make up to spiritual practice. To reach people where they are, rabbis need to apply their skills in new ways. RWB offers that kind of support. It helps rabbis better communicate in both familiar and new venues, and makes Jewish wisdom an accessible resource for the American public.”
The program, now in its third year, encourages rabbis to think creatively about their work and the new American religious landscape. Building a network of religious leaders from all streams, RWB helps rabbis make Jewish insights readily available, adding to the well of American spiritual resources. As the key disseminators of the tradition, rabbis who can present Jewish wisdom more effectively are better educators and community builders, and can become religious leaders with unique tools to offer the broader culture.
Rabbinic Fellows will gather in NYC four times over the academic year, 2011-2012. The first session, on Nov. 7-8, 2011, featured Prof. Gustav Niebuhr, Director of the Religion and Media Program at Syracuse University and former columnist at the New York Times, who discussed religion in America today. The December 19-20 program will feature social media innovators Rabbi Owen Gottlieb and Daniel Sieradisky, who will discuss technology, social media and gaming.
RWB also has a variety of resources for rabbis to enhance their skills for addressing diverse audiences. From online learning to one-on-one dialogue, participants will work with Clal faculty to develop methodologies that draw on the texts and tradition in new ways. The goal is for these “spiritual innovators” to see their congregations as more than just members of their school, community or institution.
Since 1974 when Clal began, its mission has been to help prepare the Jewish people for the unprecedented freedom and openness of America. Started by Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Clal formed a network of rabbis capable of translating Jewish wisdom and practice into useful idioms for contemporary life. RWB is an extension of that work.