Students receive a new kind of training
When you think back to good rabbis you’ve known (or to bad ones), you’re probably less likely to recall their command of the liturgy—they all know that— and more the personal touches they put on their dealings with you, whether at a family bar mitzvah or even a family funeral. They don’t teach that stuff in Rabbi School, though. Except now, reports the New York Times, they do. Yeshiva University’s seminary gets actors to come in and play the roles of congregants in need of special ministering: bereaved children, depressed folks, that sort of thing. The students, in turn, gain some experience of this unsung but nonetheless crucial aspect of being a rabbi. Of one student, the reporter writes: “The lessons he learned from the simulation, he said, were these: People may not believe you when you tell them. It may take a long time for them to absorb the shock. And after that, it only gets worse.” All the more reason for congregants to be able to turn to a rabbi with some practice.