Rabbi

Even though this may be my first job shadow, I am proclaiming this the hardest job out of my 60 professionals. I shadowed both Senior Rabbi Friedman-Kohl and Rabbi Cutler from Beth Tzedec Synagogue in the same day. I do not understand how the Rabbis can do his job day in and day out, even with the occasional day off. On the day I job shadowed Rabbi Friedman-Kohl, he arrived at 7:00 AM and left at 10:30 PM, and this was an easy day for him as he was mostly at the synagogue with no scheduled funerals or hospital visits. Oh and by the way he carries a pager and phone on his belt since he is on call 24/7. Although the hours and accessibility may seem excessive (people think only doctors need pagers) the Rabbi is a vital lifeline to the Jewish community.

After morning services we attended a synagogue staff meeting. Along with the other staff, the Rabbi discussed future events and other logistics. This meeting was very technical and logistical like a business meeting, so a Rabbi has to be organized and business savvy, to my surprise. During the staff meeting Rabbi Friedman-Kohl had to leave a few times to setup funerals and other important events.

I also sat in on a meeting of his with a non-member of the synagogue. I did not know the topic of the meeting prior, but I assumed it would be about Jewish customs, marriage, or divorce. Yet, this woman talked with Rabbi Friedman- Kohl about her career and current location in life. He offered her financial advice and tips, gave career advice, and tried to give her a clearer image of her path in life. What really amazed me was his perceptiveness, sensitivity, and his ability to comfort someone. All this sounds like a job in itself, and it is, the Rabbi is a life/career coach among many many other jobs.

Overall, while being a Rabbi is a tremendous honor and an amazing career with happy events such as weddings, it isn’t for me. It is too intense and imposes on your lifestyle too an extent I did not appreciate. I had a great experience job shadowing the Rabbis and I now have a newly found tremendous respect for them; however, this job is a marathon beyond my capabilities.

A Typical Day

A Rabbi spends his day doing ritual work and prayer, social work, learning and teaching, and organizing the community. His days vary week to week, but the one consistent aspect is long hours every single day.

Top 3 Perks

1) People are out of their way nice to Rabbis
2) Tax advantages

3) Meet great people from varying backgrounds

 

Job Culture

Face to face, telephone calls, working with groups, emotionally draining, leading others, indoors, unstructured work (job autonomy), long work week

 

Requirements 

There are 3 steps: 

1) An undergraduate degree in anything, although Jewish studies is recommended. 

 2) You must take the GRE or the LSAT, an MMPI test, and have good grades.  

3) 5-6 years at a seminary or yeshiva and you’ve got a Masters degree and Rabbinic ordination.  

TIP: To put you ahead in this field get a PHD and be a people person.


Skills Needed

People skills, thick skin, active listening, social perceptiveness, judgment and decision making, oral expression, originality 


The Field 

- Keeping the synagogue relevant among the under 40 demographic is a major concern. - Around 40% of Rabbis aren’t in the pulpit, instead many Rabbis teach in schools.