An innovative Orthodox rabbinical ordination program is using the latest technology and tools to capture the hearts and minds of students from around the world.
Employing the use of cutting edge video conferencing, online forums, and a private discussion board, onlinesmicha.com in
the past two years has ordained doctors, lawyers, chaplains, and other working professionals.
Dr. Hananya Dahan admits that the demand on his schedule is very challenging. "The online smicha program has given me the opportunity to learn in great depth using the latest internet tools available today."
"Rabbi Wilhelm is a power house of information," continues Dr. Dahan. "His devotion and patience as an educator is a true blessing. Although the program requires hard work and dedication, the journey is certainly well worth the effort.
In addition to the outstanding lessons and presentations given by Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm, the program brings in live, guest speakers who are experts in all fields of Halacha. Many leading rabbis have endorsed the program as a new technological advancement - now enabling more working men to study in a concentrated, efficient, and deliberate way as they make their journey to smicha.
The curriculum is taught live through a fully interactive "virtual classroom" by Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm, founder and dean of the unique program. A well-known scholar and author of numerous books on subjects in Jewish law, Rabbi Wilhelm serves as Online Smicha's primary educator and guide.
According to Yoel Edelson, there are two rabbinical ordination programs in the city where he lives, but between his work schedule and time demands at home, he would not be able to make the commitment to attend them.
"With the online smicha program, even if you miss a live class, a video recording is available for viewing at your convenience," relates Edelson. "The program staff also provides you with an mp3 audio copy of the shiur which you can download and listen to anytime."
A graduate of the Touro Law Center and practicing attorney for the past 18 years, newly ordained Rabbi Ahron Fishbein was not only challenged by the program, but simply amazed by the comprehensive technological support he received.
Fishbein began the 16-month accelerated program in 2010 and recently received his smicha by passing several online tests and a final in-person oral exam with Rabbi Dovid Schochet of the Toronto Rabbinical Council, a well known and prominent tester for rabbinical ordination.
"Learning from Rabbi Wilhelm online in the comfort of my office has been an amazing experience. Being able to review each class by watching the video playbacks or listening to the mp3 files on my phone, has facilitated my ability to learn better on my own. The technology and flexibility of the program was simply invaluable," relates an enthusiastic Fishbein.
"Online Smicha is the 'real deal' when it comes to learning for smicha," says Rabbi Yisrael Ort from Denver, Colorado. "I literally look forward to the classes like nothing else all week."
"Rabbi Wilhelm is an excellent speaker and maggid shiur (lecturer) who presents Halacha in a really amazing and animated way. The charts and handouts provided by the program are truly outstanding," relates Ort.
"Rabbi Wilhelm fields a lot of tricky questions in the shiurim, by phone and through the discussion board. All the standard material is covered and then some, with some very profound questions often posed by the Rabbi," offers Ort.
The technology and tools enhance the learning and offer participants a level of flexibility unlike any program today. Students come from all walks of Torah observant Judaism and must have provided a written recommendation from a recognized Orthodox rabbi, prior to their acceptance.
To receive smicha, students must pass written and oral tests covering the laws of Shabbat and Isur V'Heter in-depth, and must participate in a final test administered in person.
The rigorous, yet flexible program offers students of varying backgrounds with a Standard track and an Accelerated track both covering the laws of Basar B’Chalav (Meat with Dairy), Ta’aruvos (Mixtures), Melicha (Salting), Shabbat, and more.
Doctors, lawyers, military chaplains, and other professionals agree that Online Smicha offers a truly remarkable experience in rabbinical ordination. Many of the participants have joined the online classes from Israel,
the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Panama.