Third- and fourth-year rabbinic students at the Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) will receive enhanced apprenticeship training on their journey to the rabbinate, thanks to a newly created program launched in August 2021.
The Miriam and Jack Zwas Rabbinic Development Fund, sponsored by Dr. Felice Zwas in memory of her parents, will support students in the Irving I. Stone Rabbinic Internship Program at RIETS as they serve in rabbinic internships at synagogues.
For the last 25 years, these internships have played an invaluable role in the rabbinic ordination [semicha] process for RIETS students, contributing to their long-term successes as community ravs. As part of the internships, students join a community’s rabbinic leadership team where they are mentored by the synagogue rabbi and gain invaluable hands-on experience delivering sermons and lectures, and interacting with congregants.
“The new rabbinic development program will significantly expand RIETS’ existing internship program and the services it provides, including offering unprecedented levels of career coaching and personal attention as the students enter the rabbinate,” said Rabbi Zev Goldberg, director of the Irving I. Stone Rabbinic Internship Program, which now includes the new fund.
Rabbi Goldberg’s predecessor, Rabbi Gideon Shloush (who is making aliyah), previously coordinated the rabbinic internship program for almost two decades, with great success.
“The rabbinic internship is the first concrete step that many of our students take into the world of professional rabbinics,” explained Rabbi Goldberg, a graduate of both YU and RIETS, who as a student experienced the benefits of the school’s rabbinic internship program firsthand. “It’s a formative experience when rabbinic students take the outstanding education that they have received at RIETS and begin applying what they have learned in the classroom to the ‘real world’ of synagogues.”
For Dr. Zwas, supporting up-and-coming community rabbis is an opportunity to honor the memory of her parents, Miriam and Jack, who were passionate about the Jewish community and world Jewry.
As leaders of the Jewish community in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Miriam and Jack played an active role in the Young Israel of Fort Lee (YIFL)—led by Rabbi Goldberg—and were among the main forces behind the construction of the synagogue’s new building. Jack acted as president of the shul for eight years.
“Miriam and Jack were pillars of the Fort Lee community—they not only invested their resources into the community but also their energy and passion,” said Rabbi Goldberg, who has been the rabbi of YIFL since 2014 and also currently acts as president of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County and an officer for the Rabbinical Council of America.
“Jack seldom missed attending synagogue on Shabbat, and if he could not attend, he would call me immediately after Shabbat was over to inquire how everything went,” Rabbi Goldberg said. “Miriam and Jack loved the congregation, and in return they were loved by the congregation. Their presence is felt every day at the synagogue.”
Since its inception in 1886, RIETS has graduated more than 3,300 rabbinical students. On October 31, 2021, the most recent graduates will be honored in a Chag HaSemikhah ceremony celebrating their rabbinic ordination. For more details, visit yu.edu/chag