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“Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, And My servant whom I have chosen;
That ye may know and believe Me, and understand.”       —Isaiah 43:10

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The Rabbinical Academy (Mesifta Adath Wolkowisk, Inc.) is a unique institution. It offers an off-campus ordination program for mid-career working Jewish professionals. The course of study is individually tailored for the professional cantor, religious school educator, college Judaic instructor, hospital chaplain and others who wish to obtain Semicha to further their service to the Jewish community.


Congregation Adas Wolkowisk, Inc., established in New York City in 1879, is the patron of the Mesifta. Congregation Adas Wolkowisk serves the Jewish community through philanthropy, maintaining burial grounds in three cemeteries. It provides graves – free of charge – to the Jewish poor on an immediate need basis. (No means test is required; but certain restrictions apply.) The impetus to establish a seminary came from the leaders of the congregation as a reflection of their desire for C.A.W. to further serve the Jewish community. This would be accomplished by providing mature, experienced Jewish leaders from a pool of Jewish and secular educated working adults, who cannot attend the established seminaries full time in order to obtain ordination but merit the opportunity. Trained Jewish leaders and teachers are sorely needed throughout the country. Hence the establishment of the Mesifta Adath Wolkowisk.

The Mesifta, duly incorporated in its own right, is not affiliated with any particular Jewish denomination.  The composition of the faculty and student body represent all the branches in Judaism.  The graduates of the Rabbinical Academy serve congregations and other institutions in the United States and overseas.


This program is not for everyone who desires to come into the Rabbinate. It has been designed for the mature Jewish adult, probably already serving the Jewish community, who can readily document competence and expertise in traditional Judaic academic disciplines and significant work experience. That information is evaluated by the Academic Council and then a specific study program, which leads to ordination, is developed for that person. The off-campus program is not for the inexperienced individual or the recent college graduate. One must possess at least a Bachelors Degree in order to apply. In addition, a personal interview with the admissions committee and a conference with the seminary’s psychological consultant may be required.

There is no minimum time limit for the granting of ordination. When the candidate has completed the program requirements designed for that person, semicha will be conferred. A comprehensive examination in Jewish studies is required of all candidates for ordination. An appropriate semicha document is given at convocation exercises held in June. In those instances when the qualifying candidate cannot attend the annual Scholar’s Day Convocation to receive ordination, other suitable arrangements are made.


The seminary also offers an off-campus study program leading to investiture as a Cantor.  This program is similar to the ordination course of study. It is designed for cantors, in the field with experience and Judaic training, to obtain formal cantorial investiture.  Many professional cantors were trained privately and therefore do not hold a cantorial diploma. It is assumed that persons interested in this program have the ability to read music at sight with ease, have a knowledge of all scales, modes, intervals, harmony, nusach and chazanuth in addition to some Judaic training. The faculty evaluates the candidate’s Judaic knowledge and experience and then determines what he or she must study to obtain the diploma.


The Mesifta’s Speakers Bureau is composed of all the members of the faculty. They are available to synagogues, Jewish centers and general community groups for lectures, scholar-in-residence weekends, Shabbatons, religious retreats, etc. Their subjects run the gamut from Jewish history and halachah to modern Jewish problems and mysticism. Inquiries in this regard are welcome and may be made by writing to the Office of the President.


Each candidate is assigned one or two mentors. The mentor is a faculty member who aids the candidate in meeting the academic requirements and is available for counseling and guidance. Faculty members are located throughout the country. They represent various disciplines.


Rabbi Abr. J. Henenberg

Rabbi Charles G. Agin, D.D., D.J.L.
Hebrew Language & Literature


Rabbi Barbara Aiello
Jewish Women’s Studies

Rabbi Stuart Berman, D.D.

Rabbi A. Allen Block, D.D.
Practical Rabbinics


Rabbi Scott E. Colbert, D.S.M.,D.S.M., Cantor 
Cantorial Studies and Codes  
(Shulchan Aruch and Chevra Kadisha)    

Rabbi Stephen Dresner, D.D.
Jewish Education

Paul Engle, C.S.W., M.S.W.
Jewish Social Work


Rabbi Bertram Kieffer, D.S.M., Cantor


Rabbi Kellie Marcus, Ph.D. 
Clinical Pastoral and Religious School Education 


Rabbi Ancel Salamon
History & Halachah


Rabbi Lawrence M. Schuval, D.D.
Death & Bereavement, Halachah & Minhag


Rev. Gaylord Shimnofski, Ph.D.
Pastoral Psychiatry

Rabbi Michael Simon, D.D.
Bible & Midrash


Rabbi Stephen Texon, D.S.M., Cantor
Musicology & choral Ensemble

Rabbi R. Zev Wellins, D.D.
Hebrew & Cognate Languages

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Jewish Sociology


Rabbi Larry Winer, D.N. 
Jewish Chaplaincy and Stress Management


Additional scholars are called upon, on an adjunct basis, as needed.

For further information, or to apply, please write or send your resume to the seminary’s admissions office (regular mail only):

Mesifta Adath Wolkowisk, Inc.
28-18 147th Street
Flushing, NY 11354


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