LANCASTER, Pa. (May. 29)
Two leaders in Jewish education decried last night the “terrible shortage” of Orthodox Jewish rabbis and educators, and called on the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) to “recruit rabbis to replenish our ranks.”
One of them, Rabbi Robert Hirt, dean of communal services at Yeshiva University and a member of the advisory committee on Jewish education of the Council of Jewish Federations, asked the RCA to form a task force to join Yeshiva University in a national recruitment drive for more rabbis and educators.
Hirt’s remarks echoed the call of Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman outgoing RCA president, who had emphasized the need for enhancing rabbinical numbers in his address at the opening session of the 48th national convention of the Orthodox rabbinical organization here.
“The limited number of young rabbis entering Jewish service,” Klaperman said, “is approaching serious proportions.” He attributed the shortage of rabbis to the availability of other professions to which young Jews are attracted. Klaperman urged the RCA membership to seek out potentially qualified rabbis in their congregations and enlist them on a one-to-one basis into the rabbinate and Jewish education.
ACT TO INSPIRE YOUNG PEOPLE
Rabbi Joshua Fishman, executive vice-president of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, called on the rabbinical delegates to “inspire young people to enter the field of Jewish education.” He said Jewish teachers have to be “honored” more than they are now. He also said salaries for Jewish teachers were less than the base $20,000 per year for a Hebrew day school teacher.
Hirt also said “we are not educating the parents and young people in the congregations as to the need in the rabbinic field and the possible accomplishments.” He said Yeshiva University, which has a rabbinical seminary, is currently unable to fill requests for Orthodox rabbis for at least 20 pulpits.
Hirt asked the RCA to conduct a talent search for promising people for the rabbinate and teaching and urged the rabbis to seek financial aid from the Jewish community to provide scholarships for the long course of study by young people entering the Orthodox rabbinate.
Rabbi Louis Bernstein, rabbi of the Young Israel of Windsor, in Bayside, N.Y., a member of the Board of the Jewish Agency, was elected president, to succeed Klaperman. He had served in that post previously in 1972 and is believed to be the only president of a rabbinic group to return to the presidency.