Yom Kippur Quick Guide

Kippur Quick Guide – Rabbi Haim Ovadia

Kippur Eve and Teshuva

• The guiding rule in observing Kippur is maintaining a balance between respecting the sanctity of the day and one’s physical health.
• According to Shulhan Arukh, the practice of doing Kapparot with chickens should be eliminated. (see appendix)
• We must ask for forgiveness and reconcile with those we have hurt. If applicable, payments should be made. A token apology will not suffice.
• Whether we repent for transgressions of laws between us and God, or between us and others, the steps of Teshuva should be followed: recognition of the wrongdoing, genuine repentance, a commitment to never repeat the act.
• The one being apologized to should be willing to forgive, but if the apology is not sincere it can be rejected, especially when dealing with a habitual offender. If you see a pattern of offenses and genuine apologies from the same person, it is better to keep a distance in the future, even after forgiving.
• Confession on Minha of Kippur Eve, as well as on Kippur itself, should be focused on things we are aware of and want to repent for. It is better to say your personal prayer than use the alphabetical lists printed in the Siddur, which should be viewed as a reminder what we might have done.
• It is recommended to eat the last meal an hour or two before the fast.

Prohibitions of Kippur

• Five actions are mentioned in Halakha as forbidden on Kippur, besides the laws of Shabbat which apply to Kippur as well:
Eating and drinking; Applying oils; Washing; Wearing leather shoes; Having marital relationships.
• Of the five, only eating and drinking are punishable, since they are the only ones with basis in the Torah. The rest are instituted by the rabbis and supported by biblical texts, and it is therefore easier to allow exceptions in observing them.

Water

• Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the fast is not drinking, and quite often people push themselves to the limit and put their lives at risk. One example is that of R. Yisrael of Ruzhyn, who resisted the urge to drink on Kippur, even against his doctor’s advice, and passed away shortly afterwards at the age of 54. (1)
• R. Yaakov Haggiz (1620-1674) writes that it is possible that by biblical law one is not forbidden to drink water, since it is not nutritious. We can rely on his opinion for cases of need, as shall be explained below. (2)

Medical conditions

• If there are clear doctor’s orders, they should be followed. Attempting extreme piety and fasting against doctor’s orders is a transgression.
• Expectant and nursing mothers can sip water all day in small quantities (less than 3 fl. oz.) and in intervals of no less than five minutes.
• Pills taken on a regular basis can be taken with less than 3 fl. oz. of water. The same applies for those who need to take pills for severe headaches, including caffeine pills.
• If one feels the need to eat or drink because of physical conditions, water and food can be consumed in small quantities (less than 3 fl. oz. and 2 oz., respectively). It is recommended to use high-energy foods. They should be consumed in intervals of no less than five minutes.
• If one feels that following these rules will not suffice, and might cause him damage, he should eat and drink regularly until he is no longer at risk.
• Using mouthwash or brushing teeth is allowed on Kippur, and maybe even mandatory because of dignity and respect towards others.
• Fasting before bar or bat Mitzvah is just a custom and children should not be pushed beyond their limits, or made to feel guilty if they “broke” the fast.
• Parents and caregivers should practice great caution during Kippur, since the children or adults under their care might feel too proud or religiously committed to ask for food or water.

Other Prohibitions

• Washing is forbidden only when for pleasure, and permitted when it is for cleanliness. In antiquity only hands soiled with dirt or worse were considered unclean, but today, with our heightened hygiene awareness, one can wash hands regularly with soap when needed. (3)
• Washing the face is allowed for those who otherwise will not feel dignified or relaxed. (4)
• The prohibition of applying oils to the skin refers only to actions done for pleasure, and it is therefore allowed to use medicinal creams, lip balm, Vaseline, deodorants of all kinds, perfume, or eau de cologne.
• If one who has only leather shoes and cannot walk barefoot because of danger, or discomfort, he can wear these shoes.
• Similarly, if leather shoes are essential to provide protection from rain or snow, or for orthopedic needs, they may be used. (5)
• Abstinence is limited to intimate relationships, and does not include other forms of affection.

Kol Nidre

• The Kol Nidre ritual, at the opening of Yom Kippur services, is largely symbolic. Though the text suggests that it is an official court session, meant to annul unwanted vows, the truth is that it has no legal validity.

• Those who view Kol Nidre as a legal process, argue that since a court cannot convene at night, the text should be recited before sunset. This causes some synagogues to struggle with Kippur Eve schedule. This should not be a concern, since Kol Nidre has no legal significance.

Prayers

• The prayers of Yom Kippur are peppered with many poems and supplications, many of which are difficult to understand even for Hebrew speakers, and others to which a modern reader might not easily relate. The time we spend in the synagogue on Kippur should be meaningful and purposeful, and we should avoid reciting prayers by rote or if we do not relate to them.

• The essential components of the prayers are Shema and Amidah, and one can choose to read only those parts in each prayer. Such was the custom of the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, who would spend hours reciting those parts.

• The purpose of Yom Kippur is to prompt us to acknowledge our mistakes and repent. If this is achieved by tuning in to and following the poems and Selihot, that is wonderful, and if not, it is better to use the time in the synagogue or home for reflection and contemplation.

• We should use whatever means available and appropriate to reflect on mending our mistakes and cultivating an aspiration for spiritual growth.

• Rabbenu Yaakov ben HaRosh mentions several practices of additions to the prayer. He writes that most of the additions are optional, and that the prayer should not be stretched to the point where Shema or Musaf are not recited on time. (6)

• In general, the religious and lay leaders of the synagogue should bear in mind that on Yom Kippur they get a mixed crowd, with varied levels of expertise and interest in prayers. The common working assumption is “let us keep them here while we can”, but from experience I have learned that a shorter and more meaningful service is beneficial to all. Those who are not well-versed do not feel that they were sitting in the synagogue as extras for prolonged periods, while the more seasoned shul goers are not distracted by the conversations of those who are bored. Those interested in more poems and Selihot can remain in the synagogue and recite them after the official services have been concluded.

• One can read portions of the Tanakh, especially Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Micah. Many synagogues offer Yom Kippur readers, and one can also read the writings of the Mussar movement, Hassidic teachings, or general literature such as Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

• Most Orthodox communities are reluctant to translate prayers into the spoken language. However, the Tur and Shukhan Arukh [codes of Jewish law] both rule that one could recite the prayers in any language he chooses. Especially when reciting the very long prayers of Kippur, it would be advisable to use that ruling of the Shulhan Arukh, and not only translate prayers recited in Hebrew, but replace certain segments with the translation, to avoid redundancy and burdening the community. (7)

• If this is not possible, it is recommended that during the Selihot and the repetition of Mussaf, classes and prayer workshops will be offered to those who find it difficult to follow the prayers and remain focused.

Neila and Ending

• Birkat Kohanim of Neila should be said, preferably, before sunset. However, in most cases the sunset deadline is not met, and if it is, too much time is left until the fast is over, and as a result, the cantors drag the prayer and burden the community. It is better therefore to rely on the opinion of Rabenu Tam’s that night starts much later, and push Birkat Kohanim to about 20 minutes after sunset, thus making perfect time for the end of Tefila and Arvit.

• In some synagogues, there is a massive exodus right after the Shofar is blown. Many congregants, who stay for Arvit, get very frustrated with the noise and commotion, and of course it disrupts the Arvit prayer. It is therefore suggested to wait with the Shofar, start Arvit about 15 minutes before the fast is over, and then blow shofar at the simultaneous end of Arvit and the fast.

• If this is not possible, it is better to conduct Havdala immediately when the fast is over and let people break the fast. Then, when most people have left the synagogue, and those who stayed have quenched their thirst and satiated their hunger, they can pray with calmness and intention.

• There is a custom of starting to build the Sukkah immediately after Kippur, but it is of course not mandatory. It is a symbolic act which shows that we are eager to observe the Mitzvoth, but it should not put anyone in a predicament. The sukkah can be built before kippur, or, if one is too tired after the fast, it can be built later.

May we all have an easy and meaningful Kippur, one in which we will be able to reconcile, forgive, and propel ourselves to new spiritual heights.

Shana Tova VaHatima Tova
Rabbi Haim Ovadia

Maurycy Gottlieb Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Maurycy Gottlieb, 1878, Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Advertisements

Sukkot outreach at restaurants and pubs

Most Jewish people are not observing Sukkot (סֻכּוֹת) and Simchat Torah ( שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה). We could use innovative ideas to get the word about this holiday out. Here’s one possibility:

Sukkah in New Hampshire

Sukkot is one of the 3 Biblical pilgrimage festivals/harvest festivals /Shalosh Regalim (שלוש רגלים.)  This offers food connections. One of the observances is to say kiddush/קידוש over wine: this offers drink connections.

Perhaps a Sukkot event could be held at a restaurant on a main street, especially one with outdoor seating. One could set up an event there, and perhaps add poles and s’chach (סכך) to create a Sukkah-like area. In fact, with the restaurant’s Ok one may easily create a kosher sukkah – even if it only exists for the duration of one event.

This should be easy to set up, affordable – and will create a publicly visible area that might draw positive attention. Why should only Halloween and Xmas get all the holiday decorations? We have beauty in our own tradition.

– Robert

The Conservative Mahzor

The “Mahzor for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kipur” was published by the Rabbinical Assembly in 1972, with Rabbi Jules Harlow serving as Editor.

Harlow Mahzor

In the Amidah, the standard Conservative changes regarding sacrifices are made: It changes the phrase na’ase ve’nakriv (we will present and sacrifice) to asu ve’hikrivu (they presented and sacrificed).

The petition to accept the “fire offerings of Israel” is removed from all versions of the Amidah. Additional passages are inserted into the Musaf which reflect the reality of the State of Israel, and ask that God be merciful to all of the House of Israel who suffer. In the morning prayers, it offers a choice between a standard or abbreviated Pesukei Dezimra (verses of praise).

The Yom Kipur service has always featured a recollection of the sacrificial service (Seder Ha’Avodah)of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), which was carried out on Yom Kipur in the Temple in Jerusalem. The conventional text used by Orthodox Jews presents at least three problems for many modern congregants: (a) It is presented as a medieval liturgical poem (b) It does not present in a clear and simple way the themes and structure of the Service which it commemorates, and (C) it does not deal adequately with the problem of religious life without the Temple. To present the re-enactment of the Service of the Kohen Gadol it was thus decided to present, in Hebrew and English, an abridged adaptation of Mishnah Yoma, the rabbinic work which describes the duties of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kipur in a straightforward manner. The liturgical additions to the descriptions were retained.

How do we gain ritual atonement for sin today, in a world without the Temple? This is not a new question; the rabbis of the Talmud asked this question, and the Conservative machzor adds their insights to the text. It notes that we can only read of and imagine the splendor and glory of the Service of the Kohen Gadol in the Temple, and states “Blessed were those who shared the joy and delight of our people, blessed were those who saw the splendor of the Kohen Gadol at the Temple. They were cleansed and renewed through atonement in that service. We are diminished by its loss.” The Mahzor then continues with a passage from Avot D’Rabbi Nathan:

The Temple is destroyed. We never witnessed its glory. But Rabbi Joshua did. And when he looked at the Temple ruins one day, he burst into tears. ‘Alas for us! The place which atoned for the sins of all the people Israel lies in ruins!’ Then Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai spoke to him these words of comfort: ‘Be not grieved, my son. There is another way of gaining ritual atonement, even though the Temple is destroyed. We must now gain ritual atonement through deeds of loving-kindness.’

This section is followed by similar readings from rabbinic and prophetic literature, presenting examples of deeds of loving-kindness through which me must now gain atonement for sin. Another change is that the medieval poetic description of the Kohen Gadol is replaced by the description in the book of Ben Sira upon which the later descriptions were based.

Compared to most 18th century Ashkenazi Machzorim, there are fewer piyuttim (religious poems) in the Conservative Mahzor. The traditional martyrology (Eileh Ezkerah) which recalls the memory of rabbis martyred in talmudic times, has been adapted to include prose and poetry which form a liturgical response to the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

Thf Mahzor offers an optional Torah reading (Lev. 19) for the minhah service on Yom Kipur. New readings, including poetry and prose of modern and contemporary writers, rabbis and scholars are incorporated into the services or presented in separate sections, arranged for responsive reading or for reflection and study. Ancient and medieval rabbinic sources not usually included in prayerbooks have been added.

Adapted from the writing of Rabbi Jules Harlow.

Don’t restrict victims from praying at the Kotel

For the past 30 years, Haredim have been attempting to turn the Kotel into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue. Despite Israeli court cases ruling against this, the Israeli government, the Chief Rabbinate, and even at time the Israeli police, have refused to follow court rulings. Haredim have effectively banned all tefila at the Kotel that does not match ultra-Orthodox standards.

Western Wall Plaza Jerusalem Israel Wikimedia

One of the groups opposing this is the Original Women of the Wall (תפילת נשים בכותל.) Also opposing this are various Modern Orthodox rabbis, as well as Masorti (Conservative) and Reform (Progressive) Jewish movements. None want an end to Orthodox groups praying as they choose their; they merely want the ability to pray according to their own custom, without intimidation, threats, and violence.

In recent years the Haredim have intensified their verbal, and sometimes physical attacks on Jews who pray there. Women who dare to wear a tallit and tefillin; women who read from the Torah; groups that have egalitarian minyanim.  In response, some groups have been pursuing a legal course to allow them to pray without interference – a conclusion that the Israeli courts have already agreed with.

Yet some non-Haredim have proposed a peculiar, indeed bizarrely harmful “solution” to the problem, including attorney Susan Weiss and Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo. Cardozo insists that we must “free the site of all synagogue services [or trappings]: no no minyanim, bar mitzvahs… Torah scrolls… mechitzot… make it a place… solely for individual prayer and meditation… as our ancestors treated it… where Jews can… pray [or not], and share what we have in common instead of focusing on what divides us.”

We strenuously disagree. That’s in fact surrendering to fundamentalist intimidation. Why ban most Jewish people in the world from being able to daven in a minyan there, just because certain Haredim are acting inappropriately? We never achieve justice by punishing the victims.

No one should say that our daughters must be forbidden from having their Bat Mitzvah there, just because certain individuals are angry or violent.

Robin Silver-Zwiren writes:

The idea of a mixed group administering the Kotel is great. If the Hareidi don’t agree to sit with women, Reform Jews or even Modern Orthodox Jews, then they are off.

I don’t agree that the Kotel should not be available for prayer. Eli haKohen once served while Chana prayed. Jesus even made his tri yearly pilgrimage to the site. We may not have the Temple Mount (yet) but the Kotel is as close as we can get.

If group prayer is forbidden then it is likely the Arab world will say that the Kotel is unimportant to us. The UN and the media will see that we don’t care much for what remains of our remaining Temple wall except to make it a national holy site. What comes next – no praying allowed at Kever Rachel? If we downgrade the importance of the Kotel as a fundamental prayer site, rather than just a historical monument, we lose our heritage.

The fact that even secular Jews want to visit Israel and the Kotel proves it has meaning. I have friends from Southern California who are Reform. It is not like the Israeli Reform synagogue that I attended last Shabbat where all men wore kipot and all those who read from the Torah, male or female, donned a Talit. My friend’s son is having his Bar Mitzvah in Israel over Succot because he chose this over the usual extravagant events his classmates will do. Mom and other female guests want to be a part of the simcha and Robinson’s Arch may end up to be their only option. However they would prefer to be at the Kotel where our ancestors stood thousands of years ago.

If only we could have a mixed faction in charge of the prayer services. Not the Haredi who disturb women’s services by “praying” even louder to drown out women’s voices, or those who come over to the women’s section to cause trouble. I personally believe the mechitza should remain but a mother should be able to hear and see her son chant from the Torah scroll. Just like I was able to do in our Orthodox synagogue when my son had his Bar Mitzvah and my daughters’ gave a dvar Torah when they celebrated their milestone. A raised platform so that women can see over the mechitza is not damning halacha. It is the men who look over at the women rather than facing the Wall who are desecrating the laws.

The role of non-Jews in the synagogue

An intermarried couple joins the synagogue. What are the boundaries for participating in services?

Temple Beth Abraham

For comparison, having no boundaries is a characteristic of another, non-Jewish, monotheistic religion, Unitarian-Universalism. Not allowing any intermarried couples to join a synagogue removes the question entirely – which is the common Orthodox approach – but also drives the children of such couples eventually to other faiths.

Orthodox Judaism

Many Orthodox synagogues won’t allow intermarried couples or join. For those that do, a gentile may not become a member of a synagogue, nor serve on synagogue committees. For both halakhic and theological reasons, they may not lead prayers or recite a berakhah. Gentiles, however, are warmly welcomed to prayer services and communal events.

Conservative/Masorti Judaism

For both halakhic and theological reasons, non-Jews may not lead prayer services or recite a berakhah. They are welcomed to prayer services, and communal events. Conservative synagogues recognize that many intermarried families exist, and has created roles for non-Jewish parents/grand-parents who wish to participate in life-cycle events for their Jewish children/grandchildren.

This could include the recitation of a personal prayer, a relevant section from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible.) The booklet “Building the Faith”, from the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, notes that non-Jewish family members may be given honors to open and close the ark that contains the Torah scrolls; they may dress the Torah in its cover, and may lead the congregation in various English readings. Many Conservative synagogues are now creating support groups for intermarried families.

Reform/Liberal/Progressive Judaism

In many Reform Temples gentiles may serve on Temple committees, and may count as full members of the movement. “In many congregations…non-Jewish choristers and soloists have occupied positions which seemed to make them into shelichei tsibbur [cantor, leader of prayer services].”

Various Reform teshuvot (e.g. “Gentile Participation in Synagogue Ritual 5754.5”) offer guidance limiting the role of gentiles in Reform prayer service, but leadership is not obligated to follow.  Surveys show that 87% of Reform congregations allow gentiles to serve on synagogue committees; 22% allow gentiles to have an aliyah to the Torah.

Survery conducted by the Commission on Reform Jewish Outreach, noted in “A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America”, Jack Wertheimer

Reconstructionist Judaism

Allows rabbis to officiate at intermarriages, and accepts patrilineal descent. Children of a gentile mother are considered Jewish; despite official policy, in many congregations this does not matter whether or not they are raised as a Jew. As such, non-Jewish children raised as Christians may nonetheless be accepted as “Jews” in Reconstructionism. [Feld]

Gentiles may become members of Reconstructionist Temples, they may serve on Temple ritual committees. They may sing prayers on the bima during prayer services. The JRF has issued a non-binding statement limiting the role of gentiles in services, “Boundaries and Opportunities: The Role of Non-Jews in JRF Congregation.” However these issues are ultimately decided by local lay leadership.

  • From “Can Halakha Live?” by Rabbi Edward Feld, “The Reconstructionist”, Vol.59(2), Fall 1994, p.64-72

 

Fake rabbis

Who is a rabbi? There are several types of rabbinical ordination within Judaism, but one of the most common themes is that a rabbi is trained in good faith by other rabbis, and has an extensive background in Torah, Talmud, halakhah (Jewish law), tefila (prayer), and Jewish theology.

Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School and Cantorial School Class of 2004

Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School/Cantorial School Class of 2004

When one goes to a synagogue, the rabbi can generally be trusted to be an actual rabbi. However there needs to be skepticism on this matter, as there is a phenomenon of fake rabbis.

For decades, there has been an evangelical Christian movement attempting to convert Jews by setting up various “Messianic” synagogues. Their leaders learn how to sing some Jewish prayers; they buy tallitot and tefillin, and may dress their churches up like synagogues. As such, one can enter a congregation which advertises itself as a synagogue, but the leader is actually Christian clergy..

There is a separate Hebrew identity movement. Some non-Jews decide that they no longer believe in the Trinity, and want to accept Jewish monotheism. They can of course do so on their own, join a Unitarian church; or go to a synagogue. But some within this group “self-convert” – they simply claim to be Jewish, and some even “self identify” as rabbis. A few have created websites and Facebook discussion groups which gain followers. And so we have a group of people claiming to be rabbis, who are neither Jewish nor rabbis.

A third category exists, which is more complicated, as this group of non-rabbis has gained some traction in parts of the Jewish community. There are some Jewish people claiming to be rabbis who merely purchased “modern rabbi certificates” from diploma mill. The Forward has a article on this phenomenon:
“Online-Ordained Rabbis Grab Pulpits” Josh Nathan-Kazis 12/3/12

Some people have allowed these supposed rabbis to officiate at weddings, Bar/Bat mitzvahs, and even conversions, not knowing that their rabbinic credentials are non-existent, and that their conversions and weddings are not accepted as real.

Readers should be aware of these diploma mills: they offers “modern rabbi” certificates:

* The New Seminary, in New York City. Founded in 1981 by Joseph H. Gelberman.

* “The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute” http://jsli.net/

 

How can you tell if someone is a real rabbi?

If someone is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi then they would have learned with other Orthodox rabbis, and be qualified to be a member of an Orthodox rabbinical organization. Most of the Orthodox Jewish rabbinical groups are listed here:  Orthodox Jewish Rabbinical organizations

If someone is a Conservative/Masorti rabbi then they would be qualified to be part of the Rabbinical Assembly. or the Union for Traditional Judaism

If someone is a Reform/Liberal/Progressive rabbi then they would be qualified to be part of one of the Reform rabbinical groups, such as The Central Conference of American RabbisLiberal Judaism (Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues) or the Movement for Reform Judaism (until 2005: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain).

Individuals who pose as rabbis

* Lior Bar-El. Created a YouTube channel and became an Admin of a Facebook Judaism group. His followers posted his videos on other groups, leading many to assume that he is a rabbi. Bar-El makes attacks against real rabbis as “eiruv rabbis”, false rabbis:

https://www.youtube.com/user/vortex677 }

Here is an example of one of Lior Bar El’s screeds from 3/10/16:
> “I shall be discussing why it is not permitted and why u
> shouldn’t listen to the filth of the erev ravs {false rabbis}
> who pull new laws of abominations out their butts daily. I shall
> also have in the end a lecture and warning I give to all the
> sheeple out their that follow abominations …

* Yosef Mizrachi – A right wing Haredi Orthodox Kiruv (outreach) preacher, he makes his living lecturing at right wing Orthodox synagogues. He never received semichah (rabbinical ordination); no Orthodox yeshiva admits ordaining him as a rabbi. His own website refuses to mention why he calls himself a ‘rabbi’.

* Asher Meza is a self-styled rabbi on YouTube, but no Orthodox yeshiva admits ordaining him as a rabbi. He claims to be the leader of “Aish HaTorah College Of Jewish Studies”, but no such college exists. As seen on this video, Asher Meza accepts Christian fundamentalist Messianics as adherents of Judaism. This position is rejected by all of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153193302043228&set=vb.319582778227 }

* Judah Moshe works with Asher Meza on supposed “conversions to Judaism”, and is the leader of a website called “West African Jews of the Diaspora.” This is a non-Jewish, Black Hebrew Israelite organization, made of gentiles who self-identified as Jews in the early 20th century.

Felipe Gutierrez, claims to be an “Israelite Rabbi”

* Philip S. Berg is the founder of The Kabbalah Center. His name is actually Feivel Gruberger, and his training was to be an insurance agent. He married the niece of Kabbalist Rabbi Brandwein, and distributed his books. Feivel claims to have a Doctorate, but will not reveal the name of the universty that granted it. Feivel claims to have semichah (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivah Kol Yehudah in Jerusalem, but that too has never been confirmed by the school. Feivel’s new-age Kabbalah Center has been acepted by celebrities such as Madonna. It has grown to have branches in New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and other cities. None of the denominations of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative or Reform) consider his school authentic.

The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute

This is regarded as a mere diploma mill, selling fake “rabbi ordinations” to unknowing secular Jews for $8000. In the New Jersey “Jewish Standard”, Joanne Palmer writes:

Blane calls himself a Universalist rabbi. he mandates a belief in intermarriage and a willingness to perform such ceremonies as a prerequisite for enrollment in JSLI.
The institute, which he founded about three years ago, meets online. The only time students get together is at their ordination. Classes are by videoconference; they last for two hours once a week. There are two semesters a year, and a rabbinical student must take both semesters for s’michah, or ordination

The class “starts with a little davening,” Blane said. “Then we all bring something to the table, something that relates to halachah or a festival or a holiday. I’ve developed a curriculum that touches on what I believe is all the important topics that a liberal rabbi needs to understand and come to terms with in order to meet the needs of their communities.” Each student is required to give a d’var Torah every week, and over the course of the year they must lead a lunch-and-learn session, using some of the knowledge they gained over the course of their extra-rabbinic lives. At that point, the students are ready to be ordained, with their s’michah certifying that they “have demonstrated familiarity with our codes and texts and are empowered to serve as rabbi and teacher,” the institute’s website, jsli.net, says…  It was just about that time that the then-Cantor Blane was ordained a rabbi by the Rabbinical Seminary International.

So this “rabbinical school” has the same educational level and time commitment as a 10th grader going to a Modern Orthodox 10th grade Hebrew school.

A new way to become a rabbi? The Jewish Standard 8/24/12