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Rabbinic Leadership Programs

Empowering rabbis to communicate, educate,
and lead courageously on the pressing issues facing Judaism and Jewish peoplehood

Our rabbinic programs train exceptional rabbis of all denominations to serve as profound spiritual and intellectual leaders. By offering rabbis opportunities to enrich and enhance their knowledge of the foundations of Jewish thought, we provide them with the tools to engage and inspire the countless North American Jews whose lives they touch on a daily basis.

The intensive three-year Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) immerses an elite cadre of North American rabbis in the highest levels of Jewish learning, equipping them to meet contemporary challenges with ever-increasing intellectual and moral sophistication. The 28 rabbis of RLI VI will graduate in July 2019, bringing the number of RLI alumni to over 150. At the same time, Cohort VII will launch with tracks for outstanding pulpit rabbis, non-pulpit rabbinic thought leaders, and, for the first time, pluralistic Israeli rabbis.

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Aaron Brusso

RLI Cohort VI; Rabbi, Bet Torah, Mt. Kisco, NY 

Engagement with Hartman: I have taught each iEngage series at my shul, and we have been honored to host Yehuda Kurtzer, Yossi Klein Halevi, Elana Stein Hain and representatives from the Institute’s Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis. I’ve brought groups from the synagogue to the Institute to learn with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi for the past few years.


Adding Nuance and Civility: I decided to join RLI because I saw the difference it was making in the careers of my colleagues, and I was inspired by the depth of thought and Torah that was coming out of the Institute. My participation has given me the ability to reframe big conversations away from polarized and entrenched views and towards a real discussion of values. This has added nuance and civility to otherwise difficult conversations. And I now have a network of colleagues representing diverse Jewish expressions with whom I have developed deep enough relationships to have some of the most important conversations.


Building Confidence, Building Relationships: There are many issues Hartman has helped me to address but the most crucial one is the relationship between American Jews and Israel. As the issue gets more complicated, and as many retreat to ideological comfort zones, Hartman gets more nuanced and gives me the confidence to stand in the places I need to be in order to keep the conversation going and the relationship strong.

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Ariana Silverman


RLI Cohort VII, Rabbi, Isaac Agree
Downtown Synagogue, Detroit, MI

An Invaluable Opportunity: As a rabbi, I try to emphasize and model the value of lifelong learning. And yet, the demands of the congregational rabbinate often push deep learning and professional development away from the center and into the margins. RLI provides an invaluable opportunity to truly take time to learn and grow as a rabbi, as a Jew, and as a person.


Multiple Perspectives: I learn so much from my colleagues. I am very excited to be learning with 28 amazing colleagues who bring both shared experiences and completely different perspectives. If I learn just one new way of viewing a Jewish text or one professional insight from each of them that would change my rabbinate, and I have a feeling I will be learning much more.

Sharing Wisdom: I have already used what I learned at the RLI VII Orientation in May 2019 in my teaching and strategic thinking. My congregation, like many communities, sometimes faces challenges that other congregations have addressed effectively. There is so much wisdom that needs to be shared, and I am tremendously grateful to the Hartman Institute for making that happen.

During the annual 10-day Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar (RTS), rabbinic leaders of all denominations explore contemporary issues facing the Jewish people with outstanding scholars and rabbinic colleagues in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

More than 170 rabbinic leaders of all denominations from North and South America, Israel, and Europe participated in RTS in July 2018 on the theme “Derech Eretz: Building Character and Building Society.” Participants explored character development and ethical leadership in the Jewish tradition, essential at a time characterized by a breakdown in civil discourse, widespread cynicism about democratic principles, and misbehavior by flawed leaders.

“Hartman showed me a renewed path to a dynamic, thoughtful, intellectually rich rabbinate. It has provided me with a depth that now infuses every moment of my rabbinical day." - Rabbi Jeff Salkin, RTS; Senior Rabbi, Temple Solel, Hollywood, FL 

Rabbinical Student Programming in Israel and North America builds networks among students of different denominations who are in their formative training years:

  • The Rabbinical Students Seminar in Israel convenes students at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem during their year in Israel. Through text study, community building, and the cultivation of rabbinic identity, participants expand their perspective on Jewish values and learn how to apply what they have learned into their work in the rabbinate.

  • The LimmudNY-iEngage Rabbinic Student Fellowship convenes students from eight major seminaries to discuss Jewish values and the significance of Israel for Jewish life through biweekly seminars and participation in LimmudNY.

Hartman Video Lecture Series and book club leader’s guides are resources for rabbis to lead high level adult education programs in their synagogues and organizations. To date, over 500 rabbis have taught Hartman video lecture series. This year, our new leader’s guide aided rabbis to teach courses on Yossi Klein Halevi’s bestselling new book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, and rabbis continued to teach the latest volume in the iEngage Video Lecture Series, Israel’s Milestones and Their Meanings.

SHI’s annual webinar series is structured around the Jewish calendar and includes additional broadcasts on timely issues, such as the Israeli elections held in April. These webinars provide a valuable resource to rabbis, with insight on challenging contemporary topics and inspiring new ways to engage congregations.

Rabbinic Leadership Programs are supported by the Russell Berrie Foundation, Canadian Friends of Shalom Hartman Institute, The Crown Family, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish United Fund of Chicago, and other generous donors. 

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