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Yeshiva Chovevei Torah


YESHIVA CHOVEVEI TORAH , rabbinical school in New York City. Situated near Columbia University on the upper West Side of Manhattan, Chovevei Torah was founded in 1999 by Rabbi Avi Weiss, senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and a former instructor at Yeshiva University (yu). It positioned itself as a Modern Orthodox alternative to the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, the yu rabbinical school. Weiss and his backers believed that the yu seminary had moved so far toward Orthodox sectarianism that the moderate elements of Orthodoxy – those that endorsed secular education as a positive good, favored ameliorating the status of women under Jewish law, sought cooperation with non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, and advocated religious Zionism – no longer had a yeshiva with which they could identify. Chovevei Torah focuses on producing practicing rabbis, Jewish educators, and Hillel directors who, over time, might change the face of American Orthodoxy, making it, in Weiss's words, "open" and "nonjudgmental" rather than combative and exclusionary. To that end, students in the four-year program are given full scholarships on condition that, after ordination, they serve as rabbis for at least three years. The curriculum gives less attention to Talmud study than other Orthodox seminaries and more to nuts-and-bolts skills required in the rabbinate, such as pastoral counseling and interpersonal relations. In the view of many observers, the fortunes of Chovevei Torah could well play a decisive role in the development of American Orthodox Judaism.

[Lawrence Grossman (2nd ed.)]

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