In the Jewish tradition, one becomes a rabbi after receiving “smicha,” or ordination, from the rabbinical seminaries of the different movements of American Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox), from an independent rabbinical school, or privately from an individual rabbi.
This is a process that usually involves a five to six year period of study and community work. People go to rabbinical school not only directly from their undergraduate studies, but also later on in life, bringing with them experiences from other fields of study or work.
The course offerings at Harvard Divinity School, as well as the many opportunities for community engagement and meaningful work, can be a great preparation for rabbinical studies. Students can strengthen their skills in Hebrew, deepen their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, and expand their knowledge of Jewish history and literature.
In addition, Jewish students can explore other religious traditions, and work closely with students of many other faiths, acquiring insight and knowledge that will be invaluable when working in the American religious landscape. As many former students have discovered, their studies at the Harvard Divinity School give students a stronger, deeper, and more diverse background as they begin their rabbinical training, particularly in the areas of language and Biblical studies.