Rikmah (Hebrew for “tapestry”) is YCT’s rabbinic and leadership training program for rabbis and rabbaniyot in Israel serving in positions of influence, as rabbis of communities and yishuvim, heads of school; ramim and ramiyot in yeshivot hesder and midrashot; poskim and poskot; and religious advisors to ministers in the Knesset.

Rikmah logoRikmah is the premier program of YCT Israel and has quickly grown to be one of the most successful rabbinic training programs in Israel.

With currently 48 alumni rabbis and rabbaniyot, the program is now in it’s fifth year with 13 fellows.

We are excited to be working in this endeavor alongside Ne’emanei Torah Va’avodah and, starting in 2021, to have Maharat participate as a partnering institution. We are grateful to Rabbi Hillel Mansfield whose initial idea for such a program helped make all of this happen.

Video, Rikmah

Rikmah Cohort 3 Visit to USA

Video, Rikmah

About Rikmah

Goals & Objectives

  • To create more effective and more open-minded Israeli rabbis who see themselves as true religious leaders and who embrace a professional and vision-driven rabbinic identity for their leadership
  • To enable rabbis to become fully attentive to communal needs, and active listeners and a pastoral presence for those in need
  • To create rabbinic community and fellowship. Rabbis deeply desire a sense of community and fellowship, which can give them a sense of belonging and mutual support. Such a community can also be a source of professional advancement through members informing one another of job opportunities and in the professional network that it creates.
  • To help support and advance women’s rabbinic and religious leadership in Israel. The relatively new phenomena of rabbiniyot as female religious leaders in Israel has been growing in recent years, and yet still faces significant challenges. A program is needed to empower women so that they can own this identity and own it as women..
  • To have a meaningful impact on the dati (religious) and broader Israeli society, by bringing to it a religious approach marked by openness, nuance, and humility, and a concern for all Jews and all people.
  • To strengthen the ties between U.S. and Israel Jewry. Religious leaders in Israel can play a major role in helping to bridge the growing gulf between Israeli and North American Jewry. Israeli rabbis need to develop a sense of Klal Yisrael that extends beyond the borders of Israel, to be aware of and experience North American Jewry in all its flavors, and to feel a sense of fellowship with and responsibility towards Jews and Jewish communities outside of Israel.
  • To change the ecosystem of Israeli rabbinic training towards a more professional rabbinic field.

Why This Program Is Unique

Three things make this program unique:

Rikmah students at bonfire

Focus on rabbinic identity, not skills

  • The program asks three fundamental questions:
    • What is a rabbi?
    • What is Jewish community?
    • What is the Jewish People?
  • These three questions are the recurring themes in all the presentations, encounters with rabbinic leaders, text studies, and discussions. Through this ongoing framing and reflection, participants’ sense of their own rabbinic identity is crystalized and internalized.
  • A central part of each in-person succession is the meeting with a noted rabbinic figure. These figures, both men and women, span a ideological range, and speak to the participants about their vision as religious leaders, and the challenges, successes and lessons that they have experienced through their careers.
Rikmah students on the subway in New York City

A 10-day trip to the USA

Fellows meet with rabbis from across the denominational spectrum, each of whom presents a distinct and inspiring model of religious leadership; gain an understanding of U.S. Jewry, its history and its diversity, on a deep, emotional level, and a greater appreciation of the community-based model of the rabbinate.

Rikmah student engaging with an individual in a wheelchair

Immersive pastoral counseling training

All Rikmah fellows take part in a 9-day, full-time, immersive program run by Livyat Chen, YCT’s Center for Pastoral Counseling Training in Israel.  Taking place in the live setting of Rambam Hospital, Haifa, this program gives participants not only pastoral “skills,” but shapes them themselves, helping them become active listeners who can provide true spiritual and emotional support.

Rikmah has already translated into significant job opportunities and professional advancement for its participating rabbis, and communities and yishuvimin Israel are reaching out to us to recommend one of our rabbis for their community. We are truly transforming the Israeli rabbinate!

Program Leadership

Photograph of Rabbi Ilay Ofran. Image of a man from the chest up directly facing the camera. He has sandy toned skin, very short, frizzy, dark brown hair, stubble, dark eyes and is smiling toothily at the camera. He is wearing rimless rectangular glasses with blue frames, a dark grey fleece jacket that is zipped up to mid chest, and a light blue button-down shirt. The background is blurry and is of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale's aron cover. It is a navy blue fabric with various designs on different colored cloth squares. The designs are hard to make out but from left to right the top row is yellow, orange, lime green, dusty brown, the second row is, sandy, purple, red, orange, the third row is, pink, orange, lime green, purple and the last visible square on the bottom right it pink.

Rabbi Ilay Ofran, Co-Director

Rav of K’vutzat Yavneh and Founder and Co-Head of Mechinat Ruach HaSadeh

Photograph of Rabbanit Yafit Clymer. Image of a woman, from the neck up, directly facing the camera. She has dark eyes, a tan skin tone with freckles/ sun spots, and has a wide toothy smile. She has black hair that is mostly obscured by a large red head scarf. She is wearing a black top with either a zipper or some other metallic segmented adornment around the collar. She is also wearing gold hook earrings in each ear that end in a large, semi-spherical pink gem. The background of the image is blurry but appears to be the inside of a building with off-white walls, ensconced white illuminated lamps, a green leafy plant on display with red flowers and a glass door.

Rabbanit Yafit Clymer, Co-Director

Senior Lecture at Matan Institute and Steering Committee Member, Beit Hillel.

Photograph of Rabbi Yonah Berman. The image is the top half of Rabbi Yonah Berman with a grey background. A man, facing towards the camera, body at a slight right turn, who appears to be in his 30s to 40s with short, wavy, dark brown hair and a close-cropped beard and mustache, a wide grin, ovular black framed glasses, pinkish-tan skin tone, a blue suit jacket and pink checkered button-down shirt.

Rabbi Yonah Berman, U.S. Director

Dean of Rabbinic Initiatives

Rabbi Mishael Zion (’11)

Director of the Mandel Program for Leadership in Jewish Culture serves as a founding faculty member.

Click for details in Hebrew and applications. We encourage interested candidates to write directly to Rabbi Yonah Berman with any questions.

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