A Few Minutes With…Our Students!

We recently collected lots of great information from our students and faculty and will be sharing it over the coming months in blog posts like this. We hope you enjoy hearing from members of our community in their own words!

Today we’ll be sharing some responses from a variety of students across our programs to the following question:


“What drew you to AJRCA?”


“It is the only Cantorial school on the west coast. I looked at no other schools. Continuing on with Rabbinical studies at AJRCA was an obvious choice.”

Cantor Cheri Weiss, Cantorial Alumna/
Current Rabbinic Student

“AJRCA had been recommended by Jewish spiritual leaders. The combination of “keva” and “kavanah” at the Academy, along with the caliber of administration, faculty, and students sold me. I had seriously considered applying to Aleph, Hebrew Union College, and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. My age, distance from my aging parents, and other factors which affected my decision to follow-through with my application to AJRCA.”

Randy Lester-Wilson, Current Rabbinic Student

“AJRCA is an incredible combination of elements that make it unique among seminaries and graduate institutions worldwide. It is trans-denominational; it is flexible in terms of Zoom/hybrid learning and classes 3 days a week (which allows students to work while in school); and rabbinical, cantorial, chaplaincy, and masters students have the opportunity to take classes and learn with one another.”

Current Cantorial Student

“I wanted a trans-denominational school which was reflective of my personal approach to Jewish life today.”

J. Hyams, Current Rabbinic Student

“I liked that the schedule was limited and that it did not require a year in Israel, which would not have been feasible at this time in my life. I like that it is transdenominational and not governed by one denomination. I think that allows for a well-rounded education.”

Current Cantorial Student

“I needed a school that would make it possible for me to continue my pulpit work and go to school, and I was drawn to the school because it is not affiliated with any movement. I believe this is where progressive Judaism is going.”

Current Rabbinic Student

“AJRCA’s transdenominational bent and a student body that is relatively more mature than the average MJS program.”

Current MJS Student

“I had heard good things about AJRCA and knew it was considering the hybrid program, which it has since implemented. I needed a program that would have limited time required for me to be away from my family and congregation.”

Current Cantorial Student

A Conversation with… Rabbi Yocheved Mintz

Rabbi Mel recently sat down with Rabbi Yocheved Mintz (’04) one of AJRCA’s earliest graduates, Board Member and a longtime trailblazer in the Jewish community to discuss her current work in the Las Vegas area, how becoming a rabbi was one of her earliest career aspirations (along with some other very interesting option!), and reflect back on her time at the Academy. She and Rabbi Mel also discuss the how trans-denominational Judaism is becoming more and more prevalent all around the country.



If you’d like to help support AJRCA’s work in training Jewish leaders to transform their communities into places where all Jews can grow toward spiritual wholeness and well-being, please make a contribution here.

A Few Minutes With…Cantor Jay Frailich

We recently collected lots of great information from our students and faculty and will be sharing it over the coming months in blog posts like this. We hope you enjoy hearing from members of our community in their own words!

Faculty Member Cantor Jay Frailich

How long have you been teaching at AJRCA?

Nine years

What course(s) are you teaching at AJRCA? (either currently or in the recent past)

Biblical Cantillation – all six systems. Also, I have taught B’nai Mitzvah instruction and Shalosh Regalim Nusach.

What drew you to AJRCA?

The idea of a Cantorial School here in the Los Angeles area. Also, my daughter was a student at the AJRCA Cantorial School.

Why do you teach at AJRCA?

I have an opportunity to teach and mentor future Rabbis and Cantors.

How would you characterize the students the Academy?

It is changing. At first, most students were seeking second career. Now, it is a mix of younger students along with those pursuing a second career.

What has been your most memorable experience at the Academy to date?

In the beginning of my teaching Torah cantillation I said to one of the students who was having some trouble, “Don’t worry. It’s not rocket science.” What I didn’t know until later was that the student WAS a rocket scientist.

What is/are your favorite thing(s) about teaching here?

The very high level of intelligent students and their willingness to learn.

What advice would you give to future AJRCA students and applicants?

Even though the school offers a great deal of flexibility it is imperative to make certain that you allot sufficient time for your studies. It will be worth it.

Come to Israel with AJRCA in 2019!

We are thrilled to announce that AJRCA will be sponsoring a study tour of Israel beginning May 21, 2019 for students, board members, alumni, faculty, and community supporters.  This exciting and intensive program will be a two-week accredited seminar with travel throughout Israel including hotel accommodations, most meals, study sessions, guided tours of important sites, and meetings with academics,  journalists, faith leaders and others.  Here are key details of the tour:
May 21-June 5, 2019
$5,000 – trip including round trip airfare LAX-TLV
$3,800 – trip without airfare (for those making their own airfare arrangements)

$1,275 – additional charge to earn three credits for AJRCA students attending the program

$950 – additional charge for single accommodations
  • 13-nights of accommodations at hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Arad, and a kibbutz guest house in the Galilee
  • Daily Israeli breakfasts and 11 other meals, including Shabbat home hospitality in Jerusalem, dinner on a Bedouin ranch, a Druze dinner feast, and a gala farewell dinner
  • Tours of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tiberias, Safed, Nazareth and Haifa
  • Visits to Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites, including the Kotel, Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, Masada, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mount of Olives, Capernaum, Bahai Gardens, Ahmadiyya Muslim community (Haifa), Caesarea, Church of the Nativity
  • Guided tours of Rabin Square, Yad Vashem, Machaneh Yehudah, Tower of David Museum, Israel Museum, Save a Child’s Heart
  • Shabbat services in Jerusalem
  • Study sessions on modern Israeli literature, including S.Y. Agnon and Yehudah Amichai, led by Prof. Holli Levitsky and Prof. Victoria Aarons.
  • Interfaith study of beliefs and practices of the three Abrahamic faith traditions led by Rabbi Mark Diamond and Fr. Alexei Smith.
AJRCA students will receive 3 credits for the Israel Seminar
Rabbi Mark Diamond will serve as AJRCA instructor for the Israel seminar.  Rabbi Diamond has visited and studied in Israel more than 30 times in his career and has led seminars in Israel for graduate and undergraduate students, faith leaders, academics,  diplomats and community leaders.  He is a Professor of Practical Rabbinics at AJRCA and lecturer in Jewish Studies at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Los Angeles.
The AJRCA study tour will be held in association with “Faith and Literature in the Holy Land,” a biennial tour of Israel sponsored by LMU’s Jewish Studies Program.  Participants include LMU students, faculty members and community supporters.  The LMU tour is led by Prof. Holli Levitsky, Prof. of English and Chair of the Jewish Studies Program, and joined by  Fr. Alexei Smith, Director of the Office of Interreligious and Ecumenical Affairs of the L.A. Archdiocese, and Prof. Victoria Aarons of Trinity University, San Antonio.
Interested AJRCA community members and supporters should contact Elea Friedman (efriedman@ajrca.edu) at the AJRCA office no later than January 10, 2019 to receive registration materials. We will hold a meeting at AJRCA (and via Zoom) in January to provide further information on the seminar. Email Elea to get the details.
Zionism and Israel are central to Jewish identity, and we are proud to offer this seminar to strengthen the bonds between the AJRCA community and Israel.