An historic partnership

[attach]5362[/attach]History was made as the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School opened its doors.

The school, located at the University of St. Michael’s College’s faculty of theology, marks a first in the more than 2,000-year history of Christian-Jewish relations, according to president of the institution, Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum.

“This is the first time in all of history, and the only place on the planet, where you have a rabbinical school starting inside of a Catholic seminary,” he said.

The unprecedented pairing occurred when Anne Anderson, president of the Roman Catholic seminary, opened her doors to Tanenbaum and his institution.

“It makes me feel grateful,” Tanenbaum said. “The University of St. Michael’s College has broken the bonds of denominationalism in order to do the work of God. That’s how I see it.”

Tanenbaum said he hopes rabbinical classes will start within a year. So far, he has received about 45 applications from Canada and abroad and hopes to have about 20 students when the school is fully up and running.

Rabbinic students will be taught in Jewish law, history and theology. Students will also take courses in counselling, public speaking and community organization. Because rabbis are allowed to marry, courses are also offered to their significant others.

“The spousal program helps prepare the spouses of the students for what they do as the spouse of the rabbi,” he said.

Although rabbinical studies have not started, about 70 students have taken part in community classes offered by the school since September. These courses are offered to students who do not aspire to become rabbis, but are still interested in Judaism.

Some, but not all, of the classes are credit or merit courses with the university.

The school also plans to organize Torah-themed singles study events where one can learn about Jewish scripture and meet likeminded singles as well.

“You have something to talk about, some depth,” Tanenbaum said. “You’re not meeting online and saying ‘I love to travel, do you?’ You’re talking about something significant.”

Tanenbaum said establishing a rabbinical school in Toronto is a significant milestone in the development of Canada’s Jewish community. Other than The Rabbinical College of Canada in Montreal, the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School will be the only institution of its kind in the country.

“This is the first mainstream rabbinical school in all of Canada,” he said. “It means that we finally stop depending on other countries, that we become a mature Jewish community.”