Reform rabbis ordained in Holland for the first time

by Maskil on September 3, 2008

According to this recent JTA Breaking News item,

Reform [Liberal] rabbis were ordained in Holland for the first time.

The Robert A. Levisson Institute ordained its first five graduates Wednesday at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of the Liberal Jewish Congregation in The Hague.

…The new rabbis are all Holland residents who took part in the five-year, part-time rabbinical program while continuing in other careers.

Lilienthal … told JTA his dream was to encourage people from Holland who wished to pursue rabbinical studies but could not afford to do so abroad.

There are some 40,000 Jews in Holland today, and about 4,000 are members of Reform congregations, Lilienthal said.

As someone who believes that the progressive streams of Judaism are our best hope for salvaging something from Judaism for the benefit of Jews and humanity as a whole, I was very pleased to see that one more community is beginning to embrace Reform to some degree.

That these graduates took part in a “five-year, part-time rabbinical program while continuing in other careers” impresses me even more, and tells us something about the character of those who took part.

Should this additional load really be necessary, however? Shouldn’t the progressive community globally take more of an interest in the education and training of rabbinical candidates everywhere in the world? Doesn’t the progressive community command the resources to be able to provide full-time training of rabbinical candidates (in the language of the target community), preferably without burdening the students with massive study loans?

Perhaps the WUPJ should be granted a more generous budget – subsidised by its wealthier member communities (countries) – in order to sponsor programs to develop and support fledgling communities or, as in this case, fledgling spiritual leadership cadres.

In a previous post, I expressed my shock and disappointment with those Reform Jews who support Chabad financially, despite all the accounts of Chabad delegitimizing Reform and its adherents. Perhaps those benefactors could be persuaded to instead channel their financial support into initiatives such as this?

Please read the full (brief) item for more of the background. The story will also be covered in the WUPJ Newsletter in due course.

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