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Jewish Professions


Some Jews choose to become rabbis. Until modern times, there were no women rabbis. Recently, however, women have entered the rabbinate in three of the four modern Jewish movements. Unlike Christian priests, a rabbi is not necessarily a person who has heard a "call" from God. A rabbi is simply a professional who has studied deeply the books of Judaism and who has gained enough knowledge and sensitivity to serve the Jewish people as a leader and to answer the many questions that average Jews must ask in order to live a full Jewish life.

As a part of their task, modern rabbis perform marriages, name babies, conduct religious services, accept converts into Judaism, preach sermons, lead discussions, and counsel those in need of advice. In addition, rabbis often lead their communities in a variety of Jewish affairs, including raising funds for the American Jewish community, for Jewish concerns around the world, and for charities in Israel. Rabbis can direct or teach in religious and day schools; direct or serve in Jewish agencies and charities such as old age homes and hospices; counsel those in need, direct or work in Jewish community centers, and in welfare associations. Rabbis can also serve as chaplains in the armed forces of the United States. Rabbis officiate at funerals and burial ceremonies and help to comfort the bereaved.

Other Jewish professionals are equipped to do many of these same things, but since ancient times, rabbis have developed the leadership skills and abilities on which the Jewish people most relies.

Basic Judaism--Keyterms: Jewish, jewish, Jews, jews, Judaism, judaism, Jewish beliefs, Jewish observances, Jewish holidays, Jewish holy days, Jewish history, Rossel, rossel, Seymour Rossel, seymour rossel, beliefs, belief, observances, holy days, holidays, prayer, study, professions, history, past, future, basic, introduction, customs, ceremonies, modern, movements, Moses, monotheism, faith, philosophy, Hasidism, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Torah, prayer, study, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, Jewish law, reference, WannaLearn award, ritualOTHER JEWISH PROFESSIONS

In addition to rabbis, other professionals serve Jewish communities. Rabbis are often aided by Cantors or soloists, who bring traditional and modern Jewish music to the congregation and may also help to prepare students by teaching them the necessary melodies for reading the Torah and chanting Jewish prayers. In addition, Cantors who have been trained and ordained by accredited cantorial schools can perform most of the functions of rabbis.

Jewish day schools may have a Headmaster or Principal; and Jewish afternoon schools, religious schools, and preschools may have a Principal or Director of Education. These specially trained individuals bring a combination of Jewish learning and administrative skills to their work, as do those who serve as administrators for synagogues or directors of Jewish community centers.

Most Jewish communities also have a "Federation" that collects donations to the community and sees to their proper distribution. Many Jewish professionals serve these federations, most of them bringing combinations of skills in social work, Jewish learning, and Jewish administration.

Professional Jews may also serve as teachers in Jewish programs in universities, or as directors of Hillel foundations on college campuses, organizing Jewish college students for prayer, study, mutual support, and socialization.

Among professional Jews, one specialist is the mashgiach, a "Supervisor," whose task it is to insure that food is kosher -- butchered, processed, and prepared in accordance with Jewish laws so that it is fit to be eaten by Jews who observe the Jewish dietary laws.  At times, a rabbi or cantor may also serve as a mashgiach. Another specialist involved with kosher food preparation is the shochet, "butcher," who is trained to slaughter animals in ways considered kind by Jewish standards.

A unique Jewish professional is the mohel who circumcises a male child on the eighth day after his birth. In theory, a mohel may be male or female. In practice, the Orthodox utilize only men to perform circumcisions. Because circumcision involves cutting the skin, many a doctor or surgeon elects to train as a mohel, but there is no necessity for a mohel to be a physician or surgeon.

Jewish artists often specialize in creating ritual art for the Jewish community, combining their talents with their knowledge. Jewish poets, writers, and publishers devote their work to educating Jews through a continual outpouring of new works that illumine and enlighten their readers.

One very special kind of Jewish artist is the Scribe, a highly-trained calligrapher who produces new scrolls of the Torah, repairs older scrolls of the Torah, designs and copies new versions of the Scroll of Esther, and creates hand lettered inserts for the mezzuzah and the tefillin ("phylactery") boxes.

The variety of available Jewish professions is amazing, all of them calling on combinations which always include Jewish learning.


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Contact Info: Rabbi Seymour Rossel, 6523 Genstar Ln., Dallas, TX 75252, (713) 726-9520