Chief Rabbinate of Israel Semicha May be Viewed as a Bachelor’s Degree


lauA meeting was held in the office of Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Dovid Lau Shlita and Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, Education Minister Director-General Michal Cohen and a number of her senior staff. The talks surround efforts to have Chief Rabbinate of Israel semicha (Rabbinical ordination) recognized as a bachelor’s degree in the work sector. A decision was made to form a committee to probe the merits of such a policy.

The meeting is in response to a decision made by former Minister of Education Shai Piron to diminish the job-ranking points one received for successfully completing tests for Chief Rabbinate semicha. This refers to the point system that determines one’s salary as a teacher, with the point system taking documented authorized continuing education classes an academic degrees into account along with one’s work-related experience. Acknowledging semicha exams would bring teachers in the chareidi sector to a higher pay scale, more in line with the teachers in the regular sector.

The committee that will probe accepting exams from the Chief Rabbinate semicha will include representatives of the Education Ministry and Chief Rabbinate. Both Rav Lau and Porush were delighted at the formation of the committee for if approved, teachers in the chareidi sector who successfully completed tests for Chief Rabbinate semicha will receive a pay hike.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. This is a worthy proposal to the extent that the newly minted Rav has also received training in the basic academic and secular skills that are necessary for survival in modern society and would allow him to properly teach his students. Sadly, too many young rabunim in the Chareidi sector can barely communicate in ivrit and lack fundamental training in mathematics and sciences.

  2. Please put a comma in the title,

    Let’s eat, Grandma. vs. Let’s eat Grandma.
    Normal: Let’s eat, Grandma.
    Cannibalistic: Let’s eat Grandma.

  3. 1, Note that an Israel “bachelor’s” consists solely of a major and related courses – unlike American degrees that include general education.

    2. A B.A. in Talmudic and Biblical studies includes no training in Ivrit or mathematics, or anything other than Talmud and Bible. Yet a B.A. in Talmudic and Biblical studies is given tremendous preferences in the Israeli system (in America, disregarding academic equivalencies would constitute a rebuttable presumption of discrimination).

    3. It would be a radical change. Regarding Torah learning as worthless was the basis for discrimination against both Orthodox Jews as well as non-Ashkenazim. To make a change would be to question the basis by which Israel’s secular Euro-American oriented elite constitute the ruling class in one of th emost class-ridden societies in the world – and elites rarely risk their legitimacy.

  4. I think they are talking about teaching Kodesh subjects and being recognized as an academic. Not that they will come teach chemistry or biology using a semicha as a B.A. As regards communication, after living here nearly 4 decades, I have met very few chareidim who cannot communicate in Ivrit. Some groups still prefer Yiddish, but the vast majority of the chareidim here are fluent in Hebrew.
    Incidentally, I know Americans who earned a recognized yeshiva degree in the U.S. before moving here. Although the U.S. Dept. of Education recognizes the degree, the ministry of education in Israel refuses to.

  5. Semicha from the Rabbinate is worth infinitely more than any Bachelor’s degree from even the world’s most prestigious Universities. As an exercise to increase salaries for Haredim this is obviously worthwhile, but it should not be seen as anything more than that.

  6. @ “Gadolhadorah”:

    “…lack fundamental training in mathematics and sciences”

    Seriously? what’s with all your hateful comments against Chareidim? I actually have a secular education and the Rabanim who I’ve dealt with have a higher mathematical skill level than any of the “secular educated” people I’ve dealt with.

    Obviously you haven’t studied the “religious books” too much or you would know that in order to understand them you need a high understanding of mathematics.

    I am a successful businessman and can certainly attribute that to the time I spent learning in yeshiva. My “secular” education did nothing for me to get me where I am today.

  7. #1. The same can be said of many Yeshivos in the U.S. too. I know a number of Yeshiva graduates who got a B.A. in Talmudic Law and used that to go into a variety of fields.

    Considering it a B.A. is reasonable and your point is well made. They still needed the skills to go into their chosen profession.

    Even in the U.S., too many Yeshivos foolishly think that someone getting Semicha is enough for them to become a Rebbe.

    I*t’s not just a lack of fundamental skills. Even more important, is to know how to relate and to teach to their students properly.

    There are some great Rabbeim out there, but there are also those that do a great deal of harm.

  8. Note that an Israel “bachelor’s” consists solely of a major and related courses – unlike American degrees that include general education. –

    The ability to get an ISRAELI B.A. is based on completion of high school bagrut – which consists of learning and passing exams on more than basic general ed courses.

    Hopefully those Rebbaim and Moros have studied and completed Education Courses which deal with motivation, learning styles, differential instruction, communication, etc. before entering a classroom.