The majority of AJRCA students are highly accomplished, second-career professionals between the ages of 35 to 65. They have achieved success in such fields as Jewish education, medicine, law, performing arts, academia and business. Now, they are pursuing their dream of becoming a rabbi, cantor or chaplain. 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 the approximately 30% of our 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.
The fact that our student body is composed of men and women with rich life experience and maturity has proven to be an invaluable asset to the Academy’s educational process. Classroom discussions are at the highest intellectual level and a sense of camaraderie and collegiality is evident throughout the School. Our students are on an important journey together. As Rabbi Elijah Schochet, PhD, a world renowned expert on the origins of the Hasidic Movement and an AJRCA Professor of Talmud 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.”
Student life at the Academy is both personally and professionally fulfilling. We pray, individually and together, as religious Jews in daily minyanim which also serve as laboratories in leading services and practicing divrei Torah. Students also have the opportunity to learn, experience and internalize services in its 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, the emphasis on spiritual development gives them the “tools” 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 to those who might otherwise drift away. 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.