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Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Become a Clergyman in the United States

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Would you like to become a minister of the Gospel ? Would you like to have a license to perform marriages ? Plus, perhaps, a Ph.D. to make it all more legit ? No problem, it seems. Google "ordination," and, with just a few more clicks on the computer (and the payment of suitable fees, it goes without saying) and voila, you are the Rev. SoAndSo. To get a Ph.D., in apparently any subject, google "Ph.D." There are plenty of businesses out there to help you. "Earn a degree in 7 days, pay in installments." What could be simpler, what could be more legit ?

The rabbinate is no more difficult to obtain than the Christian ministry. There is, to cite just one example, the Rabbinical Seminary International, which will ease you into that honor. The Seminary does, it seems, require a full day of "intensive" attendance; well, nothing is that easy.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, well known for his espousal of Good Causes and Palestinian demands, was ordained as follows, according his own website:

For ... nineteen years he pursued a course of study that intensified his knowledge of Jewish texts and Jewish mysticism, until he received rabbinic ordination in 1995 from a Beyt Din (a religious court) of 3 rabbis (each of whom had received orthodox smicha).

It would be interesting to interview those three rabbis, but their identities have never been disclosed, as far as I know.

Cyntia Ozick has examined the bona fides, or otherwise, of Rabbi Lerner. Her essay appeared in a pamphlet "Israel's Jewish Defamers," published by CAMERA just now. She has kindly made it available to our readers here.

UPDATE May 28, 2010: Rabbi Lerner bestows his Human Rights prize on (Israel is a war criminal; Hang Blacks) Richard Goldstone. Click here.


B.BarNavi said...

One of them is the Reb Zalman, I do believe.

Just because you disagree with them politically doesn't make their religious authority suspect.

Werner Cohn said...

Michael Lerner has always refused to tell us which rabbis, if any, granted him "smichah," his ordination. If you're in touch with Lerner in some way, why don't you ask him to provide the information on his website. I'll be glad to publish it on my blog.

I do disagree with Lerner politically, but that, obviously, is not the reason I challenge his credentials. His politics happen to be obnoxious quite independently of his questionable credentials.