The Course’s academic year comprises 36 weeks, divided into three terms.
Students are expected to attend between 12 hours and 16 hours of taught sessions a week and to devote a roughly equivalent time to preparation and private study.
Taught sessions take place usually between 2.30 pm and 9.00 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as very occasionally on Sunday mornings. Attendance is compulsory, other than in emergency.
Shabbatons, for which accommodation is arranged, are held from time to time. During the course and depending on circumstances at the time, students may spend a short period studying in Jerusalem.
The course is planned to last for just under four years (Track 4) for those with good preliminary knowledge. It will extend for a longer period (Track 5) for students who need more time to learn. Weaker students will be assisted with special coaching and allowed additional time as necessary. It is our aim for all students on the course to attain the standard required for yore yore if at all possible.
General Notes on the Curriculum
The Curriculum, set out below, is subject to change according to circumstances; and the number of hours quoted for each topic should be regarded only as an indication.
Study of Halacha is the core of the learning for this Semicha course. Its teaching of Yoreh Deah is intended not only to give students knowledge of Melicha, Basar Bechalab and Ta’aruvot, but also to transmit the essential skills needed to approach the Rishonim and the Shulchan Aruch. For Shabbat, Niddah and other areas of practical Halacha, the learning is also very much text based; but greater focus is given to what rabbis need to know in order to advise on the more common Shailot that will come up in the course of their careers.
In addition to the main body of traditional Halachic learning, an increasing attempt will be made as the curriculum develops, to provide guidance on the wide spectrum of issues arising as the result of the huge technological changes experienced in modern times. To address this challenge, the curriculum incorporates a section on contemporary Halachic topics such as fertility, end of life, Shabbat in automated surroundings, business in the modern marketplace, e-commerce and crossing time zones. It will also aim to provide the tools necessary for approaching the further questions that will arise in future.
Introduction to the Course (60-80 hours)
If appropriate, the first term of six weeks ((November and December of year-one of each course) may be devoted to introductory sessions on the main subjects to be taught to enable students and teachers to get to know each other and for teachers to assess individual capabilities in order better to plan the pace of future work.
Halacha (800 hours)
1.1 Bishul Akkum and Chalav Akkum
1.2 Melicha & Dam
Gemara Chullin, Tur with commentary of Bet Yosef,Shulhan Aruch with commentary of Shach and Taz, selected Pri Magadim’s and contemporary Poskim.
Gemara Chulin 110b, 111a, 113a
Simanim 66-68 Dam, 69-76 Melicha, Visit to abattoir
1.3 Basar Behalab
Gemara Chullin, Tur with commentary of Bet Yosef, Shulhan Aruch with commentary of Shach and Taz, selected Pri Mgadim’s and contemporary Poskim.
Gemara Chullin 104b, 105a, 108a, 108b, 111b
Practical applications by Kashrut Mashgichim
Refresher and practical applications
Gemara Chullin, Tur with commentary of Bet Yosef, Shulhan Aruch with commentary of Shach and Taz, selected Prim Megadim’s and contemporary Poskim
Gemara Pesachim 43a, 43b
Gemara Chulin 96b-98b
Practical applications by Kashrut Mashgichim
3. Shabbat Umoadium (120 hours)
3.1 Shabbat (A) – Cooking etc.
Simanim 253, 254
3.2 Shabbat (B) – Building etc.
Simanim308-311, 313, 314
3.3 Shabbat (C) – Carrying etc.
Simanim 345-349, 358, 362, 382
3.4 Shabbat (D) – Muktsah
Simanim 308 – 314
3.5 Shabbat (E)
Contemporary halachic shailot
4. Avelut (20 hours)
5. Kiddushin and Edut (40 hours)
6. Contemporary Halachic Issues
Tanach (40 hours)
7.1 Judges and Kings
7.2 Ethics of Leadership- Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel
7.3 Sefer Tehillim
Chagim (15 hours)
Chagim and core Halachot relevant to each Chag, with focus on the Shalosh Regalim.
Tefillah (15 hours)
9.1 History and Analysis of Prayer
Midrash (10 hours)
10.1 Analysis of the significance of Midrash
Practical Rabbinics (60 hours plus practical work at weddings and funerals)
Introduction, Marriage, Bereavement
12. Public Speaking
Theory, composition, practice
13. Hazanut (Sephardi or Ashkenazi) – optional
14. Voice Training – optional
15. Rabbinic Leadership
16. Spiritual Coaching
17. How to deal with Biblical Criticism
18. Torah and Science
19. Ethics (15 hours)
History and Relationships (total 70 hours)
Zahor – the rabbinical view of history; the Babylonian Exile; the coming of Islam; the Mediterranean World; Spain and the Conversos; Northern Europe, the Church and the Crusades; Poland and Lithuania; the Ottoman Empire and the Alliance Israelite; the European Enlightenment; development of Torah – written and oral, Mishnah, Midrash, Talmud, Codes and Responsa; Torah in modern times
20.2 Development of the Anglo-Jewish Community
Expulsion to readmission; anti-Semitism and emancipation; immigration and community development; Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation of London; Sir Moses Montefiore’s life and works; visits to Bevis Marks and to Ramsgate
20.3 Emergence of other religions from Judaism
Origins and rise of Christianity and Islam; Islamic fundamentalism today
20.4 Relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews and between Jews and Jews
Getting on with other faith communities; inter-communal relations between Jews and Jews
To qualify for semicha, a student must pass all the compulsory modules. Modules marked as ‘optional’ are not essential for the awarding of semicha but will be taken into account in overall assessments. Whether or not a semicha is awarded, will be at the sole discretion of the examiners.
To receive Yoreh Yoreh, a student must have attended at least 80% of the sessions, have fulfilled the practical work requirement (if any) and have attained a mark of at least 75% in each module. A student will be allowed to re-take an examination if he fails to pass the first time – subject to his attendance record and to the Director’s approval.
Optional modules will not be taught if an insufficient numbers of students apply to study them.
Modules with the same initial number (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.) are inter-dependent, with each to some extent depending on knowledge of the preceding module.
Modules with different initial numbers (e.g. 7.1, 8.1, 9.1, etc.) are stand-alone modules.
Elements of Practical Rabbinics that do not qualify for a separate module of their own and/or do not fit into other modules are included in the course but will not be subject to separate examination.