On June 14, the Shalom Hartman Institute celebrated the graduation of eight outstanding students. After completing four years of study in the Rav Mechanach (Rabbi Educator) program, Rabbi Joshua Laden and Rabbi Feivel Strauss received s’micha from Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, while six more students of the Melamdim School for Teacher Education received an MA in Jewish Thought from Tel Aviv University and a certificate of studies from the Shalom Hartman Institute.
“These Melamdim and Rav Mechanech program graduates are a powerful infusion of educational leadership to North American Jewish communities,” says Rabbi Phil Field, director of these programs. “Both programs are based on the guiding principles of the Hartman Institute—depth of knowledge, pluralism, and the ability to envision creative solutions to the challenges facing twenty-first century Jews.”
Run in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation and Tel Aviv University, the Melamdim program trains graduates to assume leadership positions in Jewish schools throughout North America. In addition to completing the requirements for an MA from Tel Aviv University, the students completed two years of study on Jewish thought, philosophy, Talmud, and pedagogy with Shalom Hartman Institute faculty.
After finishing the Melamdim program and MA in Jewish Thought, Rav Mechanech students completed an additional two years of study preparing them for careers as rabbis within an educational setting. Trained to develop and implement the vision of a school in addition to their role as Jewish studies teachers, these two students are the first to be conferred with s’micha from the Hartman Institute.
“What excited me about the Rav Mechanech program was the possibility of learning from the great minds who populate the Hartman Institute,” says Rabbi Ladon. “The greater attraction, though, was to be immersed in a Torah of values and integrity, where academic techniques and questions were tools for imagining the sacred. I have been very fortunate, in that respect, to be a student of teachers for whom intellectual integrity and spiritual integrity are not mutually exclusive pursuits.” Rabbi Ladon will be serving as the head of Rabbinic studies and teaching Talmud and Jewish thought at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. Rabbi Strauss will be the head of Jewish life at the Emery/Weiner School in Houston.
The graduation ceremony was preceded by two separate learning sessions in which the Melamdim and Rav Mechanech graduates respectively taught their teachers texts that were significant to them. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman delivered a keynote address to the graduates, Melamdim faculty, and assembled guests.