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Rabbinical School

THE CANADIAN YESHIVA & RABBINICAL SCHOOL (CY&RS) IS THE MOST SWEEPING PROJECT TO TOUCH THE CANADIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY IN 100 YEARS. With a Canadian rabbinical school, we serve not a project with an agenda, but a panoramic vision, perpetuating our Jewish past, grounding ourselves and our children as a Jewish community in the present, and securing a quality Canadian Jewish future going forward. Year-by-year, graduating Canadian Jewish leaders go into the community, each offering some forty years of public service. The time is now, for with each passing day, our strong Canadian Jewish community is dissipating, becoming more like the Jewish community south of the border. Without yet doing any recruitment, the CY&RS' unique worldview of Classic pre-denominational Judaism has already attracted more than forty interested parties. The identified venture-capital projects, including degree-granting authority from the province of Ontario, are those capable of being leveraged to give CY&RS the foundation and recognition it needs to sustain itself on its own. With the much-needed mentoring and recognition that JVPF would also bring, the Canadian Yeshiva & Rabbinical School would look forward, within two years, to a milestone event celebrating its first class, an event that would double as an opportunity to pass the JVPF banner onto others.


Canada has a formidable Jewish presence, yet is without a single mainstream rabbinical school. Great Britain, with a much smaller Jewish population, has several. Canadians interested in the rabbinate have, until now, nowhere to go within Canada. They go into other fields or leave Canada, frequently never to return. Thus the Canadian Jewish community loses the very people it needs to reinvigorate ongoing Jewish commitment and involvement.

In addition, the Jewish world urgently needs a new type of seminary and a new type of rabbi. The new rabbi needs to have the tools to build community, not just fill an open position. At the same time, the Jewish world is rapidly becoming polarized as Orthodoxy moves rightward and Conservatism moves leftward. The new rabbi, one who can represent Classic Judaism, needs to be secure enough to be open to all. The local and national Jewish population would be greatly improved by a Toronto-based, mainstream rabbinic school taught from this particular lens of Judaism.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

We plan to open our doors to our first class of rabbis when the funds are available to see the first cohort all the way through.

Our overall goal is to help in the present and secure the future through the following means, each of which is an objective in and of itself:
*Create a centre for critical thinkers seeking a traditional community of like-minded peers
*Strengthen the representation of Classic Judaism
*Welcome the best and the brightest of Canada's Jewish community–Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and recognize the value of multiple approaches within Judaism
*Develop a rigorous training programme that includes academics, personal practice, pastoral counselling and professional development
*Send graduates, through a sh'lihut programme, to pioneer positions in communicates that we target and seed
*Promote a network of modern, adult yeshivas across the country
*Bring Jewish values to the public discourse through 21st century community building

The measure of our success will be retention and ordination of students, actually seeding new communities, recruiting new students and replicating the process and the school in other cities.

Note: The CY&RS Periodic Review Policy and Schedule includes annual student evaluations to inform faculty re-appointments, continuing appointments, and course delivery. It also includes an annual assessment of the efficiency and effective use of existing human, physical, technological, and financial resources. These surveys will also be used to help us assess the perceived impact and benefits of the school and its curriculum among students and faculty.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

Think of starting a university. All aspects, though on a much smaller scale, are what we are involved in: nonprofit business plan, academic plan, fund raising, governance, submissions for degree granting authority from the province, record keeping, public relations, communications, social media, library, facilities, faculty recruitment, student recruitment, board leadership, volunteer management, campaign management and more. We especially seek to build relationships with leaders and organizations of the Toronto Jewish community. Our president is a rabbi, not a business man, and we have a lot to learn. Mentoring in any of those areas could be crucial for us.

Time Frame: 

In September 2011, we will have opened our doors with array of themed community courses open to all who are interested, credit courses offered in cooperation with the University of Toronto, and an open and accessible study centre for those interested in classic learning. And in November, 2011, the Canadian Yeshiva & Rabbinical School will have had its major launch event. The rabbinical school project occurs over an 18 month period, across 4 Phases:


2. DONOR MARKET STUDY (month 2-8)

Hire Advancement Officer (month 6, on contract until month 12 pending more funding from other sources)
Develop promotional material (month 6-8)
Distribute material (month 8-18)

The CY&RS will hold a Milestone Event, serving as an opportunity to recognize the substantial donations received to date, and celebrate the donations being secured for the future. This community celebration will be open to all stakeholders of the CY&RS community, providing an opportunity for gifts, endowments, and naming opportunities as outlined in our Marketing Plan (2011). JVPF will be recognized as a prominent sponsor at said event.


The Canadian Yeshiva & Rabbinical School (CY&RS) is incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario as a religious and educational institution. CRA Registration # 83476 3955 RR0001.

Pending acceptance from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the CY&RS is slated to become a formal member institution of the Toronto School of Theology within the University of Toronto—home to one of the largest Jewish libraries in North America, a host of student and faculty services, and an exceptional reputation for higher learning.

The CY&RS has also developed informal strategic alliances with the M’tivta (New Jersey), with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. We also have a cross-Canada rabbinic advisory board, a cross-Canada academic liaison advisory board composed of professors in Jewish Studies programmes, and an interfaith advisory board.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

The Yeshiva has been developed under the guidance of its Board of Governors, the membership of which is a diverse array of lay people, rabbis, professional Jewish leaders and scholars across the Greater Toronto Area. The Board of Governors is charged with seeing that the school's mission is fulfilled with economic vitality. The school has assembled a world-renowned faculty and currently operates out of The Toronto School of Theology, which will also be the location for its classes, Beit Midrash, and faculty offices. .

Rabbi Roy D. Tanenbaum, our Rosh HaYeshiva (President & Vice-Chancellor), is the dynamic force behind the Canadian Yeshiva & Rabbinical School. He is retired from Beth Tzedec and has been involved over the years in the development and delivery of many innovative programmes including a successful Hebrew day school, a programme of teaching Hebrew in New York State public schools, and the School for Shamashim here in Toronto. Tanenbaum is past president of the Rabbinical Assembly, Canadian Region, and has has served on the faculty of the University of Miami in Ohio and Mount Royal College in Calgary. With many articles to his credit, in 1998, the University of Calgary Press published his book, Prisoner 88—The Man in Stripes, and his commentary on the Shabbat Morning Service, Rinat Dodim, A Song of Lovers, graces the pews in many synagogues.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

The proposed project meets all of JVPF’s criteria for enhancing competitiveness:
INNOVATION: The CY&RS offers a timeless and unique worldview of Classic (pre-denominational) Judaism to its students, a modern approach to reaching isolated Jewish communities, and an unparalleled high-level Jewish learning environment. CY&RS is also unique among mainstream rabbinical schools in preparing its graduates not just to fill positions but also with the tools to go anywhere and build community. In addition, it will be the only mainstream rabbinical school in Canada and the only school in North America offering rabbinic education as part of a consortium of theological schools with conjoint degrees from a major university.
SUSTAINABLE: JVPF seed funds will launch a massive marketing study and fund-raising campaign to secure the funds necessary for this sweeping project. The unique partnership with the University of Toronto and the Toronto School of Theology provides the stability and credibility for long-range sustainability, while JVPF will provide the necessary credibility in the Jewish community to move forward confidently.
SCALABLE: While Toronto will be the home-base for each of the programmes, the learning offered through its curriculum will spread through its seeding programme, moving the teachings from the classroom to Jewish communities across the country. CY&RS graduates will be prepared to build modern community yeshivot in every Canadian city, thus strengthening Jewish commitment throughout the country.
REPLICABLE: The CY&RS’ concept of Classic Judaism and its learning model may also be replicated in other Jewish institutions of higher learning across Canada and the world. In addition, the location of the CY&RS within a larger nest of theological schools is an organizational model which may work well for schools implemented in other areas of Canada and the world.
LEVERAGE: We have a database of 2,500 names of Jewish leaders across Canada. We plan to use the seed funding from JVPF to leverage and kick-start our own fund-raising campaign. For this reason, we are specifically asking for a decreasing financial commitment over the two years.