Straus-Amiel

Straus-Amiel trains innovative, dynamic young rabbis to master pastoral and ritual tasks. These skills are complemented by tools acquired through a special course of study, the George Weinstein Curriculum for Outreach and Pedagogy, which .empowers them to provide exemplary leadership in synagogues and communities throughout the world.

Topics covered include:

Understanding Diaspora Communities

To function effectively a rabbi must have a full understanding of the nature of his community. To this end our students learn about the character and structures of Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

  • The demographic nature of the Jewish world and its implications for the rabbinate
  • Denominations of Judaism in the Diaspora
  • Jews in Israel and the world

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The Rabbi as a Professional Leader

The rabbis position as a spiritual leader and role model for the community while simultaneously serving as its employee is complicated. In this unit, students learn how to navigate the complexities of their station.

  • Mapping the community and setting goals
  • Brainstorming and decision-making processes
  • Forming a personal vision - strategic and analytic planning
  • Relations between the Beit Din in Israel and the Diaspora (certificates, divorces, conversion)
  • Time management
  • Perceptions of the rabbi formality versus informality
  • The rabbi and Torah study in the community
  • Moral and halachic dilemmas in the rabbis work
  • Negotiating skills
  • Assertiveness and effectiveness

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Communications and Public Relations

Once the rabbi has developed the vision and the programs he would like to run in his community, his success in implementing them will depend upon his ability to market them effectively

  • Building a positive brand
  • Marketing the synagogue and its programs to the community
  • Creative means of effecting change
  • Principles of effective interpersonal communications
  • Problems and solutions in interpersonal development

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Family Counseling

Many people turn to their rabbi for wise advice and counsel, especially in times of tragedy. For this reason, we provide our rabbis with the counseling skills necessary to offer comfort and support to their congregants.

  • The limits of confidentiality in halacha, law and practice
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Active listening and non-verbal communication
  • The role of the rabbi in family crises (bereavement, matrimonial problems, divorce and bankruptcy)
  • Faith and doubt dealing with tragedy in people's lives
  • Drugs and addictions

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Rhetoric and Public Speaking

One of the most powerful tools at the rabbi's disposal is his ability to inspire his community with thoughtful, passionate speeches. We train our rabbis to be outstanding orators and communicators.

  • Homiletics: sermons, wedding speeches and eulogies
  • Teaching texts in a post-modern world
  • Presentation, poise, voice control and non-verbal communication
  • Discerning, adapting and responding to the interests of the audience
  • Moderating an open dialogue
  • How to interview and be interviewed

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Guiding Families through Lifecycle Events

One of the most important roles of the rabbi is to support his community members through both the celebrations and the difficult moments of the lifecycle. In this unit, we explore the halachic and pastoral implications of major lifecycle events for the rabbi.

  • Infertility, birth and birth ceremonies including Brit Milah, Simchat Bat and Pidyon Haben
  • Bar & Bat Mitzvah
  • Weddings - including preparing brides and grooms for the ceremony and married life
  • Divorce (including writing a get and the treatment of agunot)
  • Conversion
  • Adoption
  • Visiting the sick
  • Death, burial, mourning and the Chevra Kaddisha

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The Structure and Management of the Synagogue throughout the Jewish Year

A rabbi is expected to maintain the halachic standards of his community and to deliver appropriate religious rulings where necessary. In this unit, we examine the halachot, traditions and personal skills necessary to run an efficient and harmonious synagogue on weekdays, Shabbatot and the festivals.

  • The rules of a synagogue and its management
  • Creating a meaningful role for women in the synagogue
  • Maintaining the kashrut of the Sifrei Torah and dealing with problems that arise.
  • Shabbat and festivals in the synagogue
  • Kashrut in the synagogue kitchens
  • Mikveh maintenance
  • Customs their validity and status

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Contemporary Questions in the Jewish World

A rabbi must be able to relate to modern issues and present relevant and sophisticated positions to his community. This section of our curriculum is devoted to mastering some of the most difficult issues facing the modern Jewish world.

  • Medical ethics and halacha
  • Peoplehood, identity & assimilation
  • Israel and the Diaspora the rabbi as a spokesman for Israel
  • Liberalism, Secularism, Democracy and Judaism
  • Interfaith dialogue and its limits: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism
  • Religion, science and superstition
  • Morality and sexuality in the post-modern world

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