Non-Denominational Rabbi Program Gets $50 Million


A non-denominational rabbinical training school in Los Angeles, part of a unique partnership with Christian and Muslim partners announced earlier this year, will expand its educational offerings with the help of a multi-million dollar grant.

The Academy for Jewish Religion, an independent off-shoot of a Bronx institution that shares the same name, shares curricula with the nearby Claremont School of Theology, a Methodist institution, and the Islamic Center of Southern California, as part of the interfaith University Project initiative that was founded with a $10 million gift from Arizona philanthropists David and Joan Lincoln.

A further $40 million pledge from the couple will establish the Claremont Lincoln University, which will offer more ecumenical courses open to students from each school. While the new entity will award degrees in interfaith studies, each faith-based school will continue to ordain its own students, said Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, the AJR president.

The rabbinical school will offer a Ph.D. program, expand the number of elective courses available to the Christian and Muslim students, and will begin offering on-line long distance learning to students who live outside of the campus’ area, Rabbi Gottlieb said. Students from the three schools will also take part in more joint programs to fight poverty and homelessness, he said.