AJRCA attracts an extraordinary variety of students who have excelled in previous studies or demonstrated significant accomplishments in previous stages of their lives. Now they are pursuing a cherished dream of expanding their learning and deepening their Jewish connection. They have discovered in themselves a love for the Jewish community and want to share in leading us all to a greater richness and satisfaction in our common Jewish life. Our students are visionaries, each in their own way. They want the kind of open, thought-provoking learning experience that makes a real difference in their lives.
Our classes are not only multi-denominational but also multi-generational, where recent college graduates interact with parents of young children and senior citizens. Some classes will be multi-faith as well, when students from other seminaries enroll. Classroom discussions are at a high intellectual level; at the same time, a sense of camaraderie and collegiality is evident throughout the school, and competitiveness is at a minimum. Most importantly, our students are on a significant personal journey together. As Talmud professor Rabbi Elijah Schochet, PhD, a world renowned expert on the origins of the Hasidic movement, notes, “The Academy’s student body is rich in both gifts of mind and gifts of heart. They bring to our school remarkable intellectual powers and profound sensitivity.”
In order to accommodate our students’ professional and personal responsibilities, the Academy operates on a Sunday to Tuesday schedule of classes. This flexible schedule is also ideal for many students who commute from outside of the Greater Los Angeles area. In recent years, students have commuted weekly from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Northern California and San Diego. Students for whom the commute is impossible will be interested in our gradually expanding low-residency courses, including both hybrid and online classes. (Hybrid classes meet for two weeks of intensive learning in either January or June, and students complete the class work online.)
Student life at the Academy is both personally and professionally fulfilling. We pray, individually and together in minyanim, as religious Jews in minyanim which also serve as laboratories in leading services and delivering divrei Torah. Students also have the opportunity to learn, experience and internalize services in various denominational forms. The Vaad or student organization is in charge of many of the Academy’s co-curricular activities. Special shiurim by guest lecturers are featured throughout the year, and our own Cantorial students provide education in Jewish music by creating cantorial shiurim for the entire AJRCA community. A highlight of the year is the Annual Retreat, when students, administrators, and faculty all join together for a few days of focused learning, contemplation, and entertainment away from the classroom and the city.
Our students benefit from a faculty and curriculum that represent the teachings and traditions of all of Judaism’s denominations. In addition, our emphasis on spiritual development gives them the methods and experience that will allow them to become spiritual leaders and spiritual counselors. As a result of their unique training, our graduates are able to reach out and bring the real beauty of Judaism to Jews of all denominations as well as the unaffiliated. Well-prepared to work in a variety of settings, they are being hired by synagogues, day schools, hospitals, universities and other communal organizations and institutions nationwide.