For Students

Rabbis Without Borders nurtures and develops the skills of rabbinical students who wish to create and communicate Jewish wisdom to a broad audience.

Rabbis Without Borders offers a multi-faceted program for students, including:

RWB Student Fellowship Program
RWB Weekend Retreats
RWB Seminars, open to students who want to learn how to use Jewish wisdom and practices to better address the personal and public issues facing people in contemporary American life.

RWB Student Fellowship Program

Clal's Rabbis Without Borders (RWB) is a pluralist, interdenominational network of rabbis who are able to make Jewish wisdom and traditions relevant and meaningful to anyone seeking greater meaning and purpose in their lives. The RWB Student Fellowship helps rabbinical students develop and communicate a Judaism that can compete in a globalized, networked world in which identities and communal boundaries are increasingly permeable. By participating in the RWB Student Fellowship, you will learn how to use Jewish wisdom to speak to contemporary American issues, how to use language that is open and inclusive to reach a larger audience, and how to use Jewish wisdom to add meaning to people's lives.

The program offers an opportunity to join with students from across the denominational spectrum and to build skills in a variety of areas that will foster more effective spiritual leadership. Discussions focus on:

  • The sociology of the American religious and spiritual landscape (i.e. what Americans really believe about God, trends and practices in American spiritual life, knowledge of other religious traditions);
  • The theory and practice of pluralism (i.e. why hearing different viewpoints strengthens our society, what kind of religious voices do Americans consider authentic and why);
  • Innovative methods and pedagogies for translating Jewish wisdom and practice into useful contemporary idioms (i.e. how we need to change our vocabulary to be understood by contemporary Americans Jews and non-Jews and ways that they can apply Jewish wisdom to their lives);
  • Using technology and media to communicate your message to a broad audience (i.e. how to use tools such as blogs, the internet, media and other technology more effectively in your work.)

Students will gather once a month for dinner and a 3 hour interactive learning session during the academic year. One Sunday day long retreat will also be held.

The RWB Rabbinical Student Fellowship will cover all costs for participating in the program. There will be no cost for participants. If you are interested in participating in the program, please send one Word or PDF document including: your name, address, email address, school you attend, resume, and a one-page response to why you would like to participate in this program. Applications are due by May 2, 2014

East Coast students should send applications to: Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu at

West Coast students should send applications to: Rabbi Tsafi Lev

RWB Weekend Retreats



Since 2005 Rabbi Sid Schwarz has been organizing retreats for rabbinical students from across the denominational spectrum. Currently eleven separate seminaries serve as co-sponsors of the retreat with strong endorsements from their respective academic deans [Hebrew Union College (New York, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles), The Jewish Theological Seminary, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbinical School at Hebrew College (Boston), Academy for Jewish Religion (NY), Academy for Jewish Religion (LA), Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism and the ALEPH Rabbinic Program].

While these retreats were originally sponsored by the PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, as of 2010 they became  part of Clal's Rabbis Without Borders (RWB) student program.

Two retreats are held each year. The fall retreat is on “Re-imagining Synagogues and the Rabbinate.” The spring retreat is on “Spirituality, Social Justice and the Rabbinate.” The themes and spirit of the retreats are infused with the innovative spirit of the program's director, Rabbi Sid Schwarz, and the cutting edge ideas of his two books, Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews can Transform the American Synagogue (Jossey Bass, 2000) and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World (Jewish Lights, 2006).

For each retreat Sid invites outstanding colleagues to join him as co-faculty providing a rich array of experience and ideological diversity to enrich and challenge the participants. Past visiting faculty have included Rabbis Irwin Kula, Dov Linzer, Laura Geller, Brad Hirschfield, Sharon Brous, Asher Lopatin, Tsvi Blanchard, Adina Lewittes, Steven Greenberg and Larry Kushner. 

The goals of the retreat are:

 to challenge students to thinking boldly about their rabbinate and how they can help make Judaism more compelling and relevant to a new generation of American Jews;

 to meet, forge relationships with and learn from rabbinical students from different ideological, denominational and institutional contexts;

 to expose future rabbis to some of the most outstanding practitioners in the field from whom they can learn some practical “Torah” that goes beyond the curricular offerings of their respective seminaries.

 Sessions throughout the retreats are designed to tap into the gifts and talents of all assembled. While students are eager to learn from the faculty, by the final day of the retreat, all agree that just as much was learned from peers as from the faculty. It creates a special bond between participants, an exhilarating intimacy in the community that gets formed over the four days and exposes participants to a unique way of structuring an intentional spiritual community that is instructive for their own rabbinates.

Retreats scheduled for this year are:  

Theme:  Re-Imagining Synagogues and the Rabbinate
Place:     Brandeis-Bardin Campus, Simi Valley, CA  
Faculty: Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Rabbi Noa Kushner, Rabbi Ed Feinstein
Dates:    November 13-16, 2014

Theme: Spirituality, Social Justice and the Rabbinate
Place:    Pearlstone Retreat Center, Reisterstown, MD  
Faculty: TBD
Dates:   April 30 - May 3, 2015

To find out more about past retreats, take a look at the Fall 2013 flier and summary report or the Spring 2014 flier and summary report.

   RWB Seminars

Join us for dinner and stimulating conversations with leading American rabbis, including:

Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life;
Brad Hirschfield, author of You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right;
Tsvi Blanchard, an Orthodox rabbi, psychologist, and popular teacher.
Rebecca W. Sirbu, creative thinker, teacher and pastoral counselor.

Following is a list of several seminar possibilities for you to consider. Contact Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu: or 212.779.3300 x. 122, for more information.

Provoking Our Texts with Probing Questions
A method of deriving meaning and insight for today's world from Jewish texts.
with Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard

You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right
Taking the inspiring and pragmatic pluralist path to hope, peace, and understanding.
with Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Finding Spiritual Pathways in Everyday Life
Using our traditions and rituals in new and creative ways in daily life
with Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu

Jewish Wisdom as a Method of Being Human
How Jewish wisdom can deepen the meaning of our lives.
with Rabbi Irwin Kula