Community Blog Hebrew College Receives $150,000 Covenant Grant to Foster Spiritual Leadership
A rabbi’s own spiritual journey and growth takes time, cultivation, and practice. And thanks to The Covenant Foundation, Hebrew College has received a Signature Grant to develop and implement programs that foster spiritual formation for future rabbis.
The $150,000 three-year grant will be used to improve and expand on five key aspects of Hebrew College’s rabbinical education: faculty pedagogical development (including the creation of a course on Spiritual Life in the Rabbinate), beit midrash chevrutah learning, chevraya spiritual formation groups & retreats, the creation of a student mentor-sharing program, and the development of tools to better assess student spiritual growth.
The grant intends to, in part, help address and combat the North American non-Orthodox leadership crisis. As rabbis are leaving the pulpit in historic numbers and the number of people going to rabbinical school is declining, Hebrew College looks to address one of the causes for this exodus from rabbinic work: spiritual burnout. “While the acquisition of Judaic knowledge and professional skills, which traditionally have been the primary focus of rabbinic education, are critical, they are insufficient to prepare students for effective and enduring lives in the rabbinate,” says Rabbi Daniel Klein, Hebrew College’s Dean of Students, who co-directed the grant alongside Hebrew College Vice President Dr. Susie Tanchel. “The spiritual resources required to do the essential rabbinic work of caring for congregants, helping them find their path in Jewish living, and building communities, can only be present if rabbis learn to cultivate their own inner lives.”
Hebrew College’s grant is part of $1.7 million given out by the Covenant Foundation this year to support the newest and most exciting ideas in Jewish education. Since 1991, the Foundation has provided more than $41 million to support Jewish education in North America. In 2022, Hebrew College also received an Ignition Grant from the Covenant Foundation. Ignition Grants are one-year grants of maximally $20,000 to help organizations launch a project. The College used the 2022 grant to create a series of professional development workshops, student and faculty retreats, and a new introductory course for rabbinical students. Last year’s grant helped in the development of a shared understanding of spiritual formation as part of a larger re-articulation of the College’s vision for rabbinic education.
Among the other grant recipients are The Jewish Studio Project, co-founded by Hebrew College alumna Rabbi Adina Allen, and SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, a partner with the rabbinical school, also received Signature Grants to develop and expand exciting and vital work happening at their organizations.
The College is grateful to the Covenant Foundation for their generosity and progressive vision for innovative Jewish learning. “The Covenant Foundation is a very important, impactful, and prestigious Jewish foundation supporting leading and innovative Jewish educational institutions,” added Klein. “It is an extraordinary honor to receive any grant from them, especially their Signature Grant. It is also an honor because they are funding us for spiritual formation work, which is one of the distinctive features of our approach to rabbinic education. Their support is an affirmation of the critical importance of rabbinic education and our distinctive approach to it.”