19 November 2006

On Why I Wanted To Become A Rabbi/Rabbinical Student

It is not uncommon for people to turn to me, on hearing that I am a rabbinical student, and inquire, "How did you decide to do that?"
It was in the summer preceding my last semester in college that I was working at BBYO summer International leadership programs that, after seeing some of the rabbinical/Judaic staff, that I decided that I wanted to become a rabbi myself. That semester I began to look into this possibility. As I had been at YU for a couple of semesters of undergraduate study, I had been aware of RIETS and started thinking about it. However, a chance encounter with Rabbi Mordechai Weiss, who suggested that I look into Chovevei, in that October ('03) would change that. I began to look into YCT, found it to my liking, got accepted, and am here.
It was through my interactions and experiences in BBYO in high school that I came to like conventions/conferences, parliamentary procedure and other bureaucratic staples, leadership, and Jewish activities. Thus, it should come as no surprise, then, that the two biggest motivations for me were leadership and doing something Jewish to go into the rabbinate. In addition to those, or rather, similarly, I had bought into the message somewhere along the line that the Jewish people needs some good leaders - and I thought I could help. There were some additional reasons such as learning Torah/Judaism while in the process of training for the profession (which is a big plus, as I was not raised tremendously observant and/or connected to tradition), the ability to go to conferences, and also not have to sit behind a desk all day, but rather do something that not only is important and impacts upon peoples' lives, but also has a variety of various things, which makes for a minimum of monotony. There may be other reasons, but I hope this suffices for now. (Oh, yeah, also going out to help guide people in doing Jewishly - I find that to be very powerful. Just seeing people at Chabad houses, or many Jews who know so little about their tradition makes me want to help teach them, etc. (I'm talking about those who are interested already - not trying to go out there and ramming it down peoples' throats who don't want it.).)

6 comments:

Isabelle said...

Drew,
You wrote: "I was not raised tremendously observant and/or connected to tradition" so may I ask you why you chose YCY over JTS for instance?
I can see why I would (although this is purely hypothetical given that I am a woman) but I'd love to know why you did.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Going to a Conservative seminary rather than an Orthodox one was not on my radar.

Anonymous said...

YCT gives you the best of both worlds - Conservative theology & practice covered with a thin veneer of Orthodoxy.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Anonymous,
I don't know where you get that idea. I had no interest in Conservative Judaism - I had been at Ohr Somayach and Yeshiva University and was interested in Orthodoxy - and had never even had the slightest thought about going to a Conservative place. I disagree heavily with you.

EineiHaEdah said...

Anonymous' point, Reb Drew, is that even if you and your chaverim sincerely and well-meaningly meant to go to an Orthodox seminary, you have in point of fact, not succeeded. The utter disregard for the Gedolei HaDor on issues of feminism, pluralism, and ecumenicism eradicates your seminary's Orthodox credentials. Not to mention other issues of practice and theology. Isn't it even worth considering that you and your chaverim have just made an error?
See my blog for proofs of what I say.
Eliyahu Ferrell

Anonymous said...

"YCT gives you the best of both worlds - Conservative theology & practice covered with a thin veneer of Orthodoxy."

Halevai, anonymous, halevai . . .