Lamm Announces New Program for the Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary

Dr. Norman Loran, president of Yeshiva University, today announced a new program at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, the Orthodox university’s center for rabbinic training, to educate laymen in Jewish law and thought. He said the program, which will revive the 2000-year-old designation “Chayer” for exceptional scholarly achievement, will be similar to course of studies for smicha (ordination), but will be armed at those who plan to go to graduate or professional schools and pursue careers outside the rabbinate.

Lamm made the announcement before some 2000 persons at a Torah Convocation for 360 rabbis aided by the seminary from 1970 to 1977 which capped a week-long eighth anniversary celebration for the seminary, the nation’s oldest and largest rabbinic training and Jewish service center. The seminary, chartered March 20, 1897, eventually grew into Yeshiva University which has 7000 students in five undergraduate and nine graduate and professional schools.

In this day and age, with our ever-increasing technological and scientific breakthroughs, its complexity of interrelated moral and juridical issues, it is vital that the professional practitioner have a solid grounding in Judaic law and thought to serve as the foundation of his career and a guidepost in his practice,” Lamm said explaining the Chaver program.

ELEMENTS OF NEW PROGRAM

He pointed out that the title “Chaver” was in Talmudic times “bestowed only upon the most eminent scholars” while later it was also “conferred upon choice laymen as a signal token of recognition for personal learning and distinguished communal leadership. Today, with the growing concern of ethics in business and the professions, and the need for a core cadre of highly knowledgeable lay leaders, the Chaver will assume a new significance, emerging out of the new realities of this special time in Jewish history.”

In outlining the tuition-free program, Lamm said that after graduating college the students would postpone their graduate work for a year and devote themselves to the regular course of learning at the seminary, a systematic program of Jewish studies related to their chosen profession and advanced Biblical studies and Jewish thought. After graduate school, they would return for a two-to-four-week summary period to gain the title Chaver. There would be examinations at each step.

At the convocation, Lamm presented a Building Dedicatory Award to Joseph and Faye Tanenbaum of Toronto in recognition of their gift of $1 million to dedicate the seminary’s historic 50-year-old structure in Washington Heights. A newly-elected board of the seminary was honored at the 80th anniversary dinner last Thursday night. Charles H. Bendheim, New York, is board president. (By David Friedman)

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