Rabbis observe the ritual and ethical dimensions of Jewish life, and devote
themselves to a lifetime of service to the Jewish people.
They serve in either an Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist
Jewish congregation, depending on their beliefs and training. Regardless of
their particular beliefs or religious viewpoint, they all share the common
task of preserving Jewish religious worship.
Jean Rosensaft, the national director of public affairs at Hebrew Union
College in New York, says the future is bright for those considering this
"The rabbinate is a growing profession in America. As career opportunities
for rabbis have expanded and the ordination of women in the Reform and Conservative
movements has increased over the years, interest in becoming a rabbi has increased
and opportunities for placement have expanded widely."
Traditionally, only men could become rabbis. But in recent decades, Reform,
Conservative, and Reconstructionist seminaries have begun to ordain significant
numbers of women.
Congregations differ in the extent to which they follow traditional forms
of worship -- the wearing of head coverings, the use of Hebrew in prayer,
or the use of instrumental music or a choir. The format of the worship service
may vary even among congregations belonging to the same branch of Judaism.
- Perform birth ceremonials, confirmations, marriages and funerals
- Interpret the tenets of Judaism
- Teach and oversee religious instruction in synagogues or temple schools
- Preach sermons
- Offer comfort and consolation, visit hospitals
- Counsel and advise members of the congregation
- Represent the Jewish community to the public
- Write for religious and lay publications
Rabbis are only responsible to the board of trustees of the congregation
they serve. Those serving large congregations may spend considerable time
in administrative duties, working with staff and committees. Large congregations
frequently have associate or assistant rabbis, who often serve as educational