For example, Minister's become ordained in Christianity. What is the process and the actual act of becoming a Rabbi called in Judaism?

  • I am not sure what you mean. A rabbi gets the title when he is granted it by an appropriate religious school. Since there are groups that are legitimate and groups that are not legitimate, and there is no central authority that can control this, almost anybody can make a claim to the title. It is not like Catholicism (as an example) in which a priest must be certified by the ruling hierarchy in the church. Originally, Moses appointed rabbis by the process called semicha, and they appointed the next group, etc. The term is still used, but the actual chain was broken by the Romans. Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 1:18
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    Three people voted to close this because "This question does not appear to be about Judaism within the scope defined in the help center. Note that not all questions about the Hebrew language, about history or news of the Jewish people, about Jewish individuals, or about the State of Israel are necessarily about Judaism." I fail to see the applicability of that reason. This question is clearly about Judaism: it's about the ordination of rabbis.
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 14:48
  • @sabbahillel If no central authority exists, how can be discerned that a group is legitimate or not legitimate? This is an oxymoron. The only result could be several schools claiming to be legitimate and also claiming that other schools are illegitimate (or more nicely "misguided"), as history shows regularly? Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 15:08
  • @ThorstenS It is a matter of I know it when I see it. The main reason is when a person is accepted by the Orthodox Yeshivas or the rabbinate in Israel. Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 15:13
  • @sabbahillel Ah, I see that it is different for different branches like Orthodox, Conservative, Modern/Reform judaism who can be accepted as Rabbi. Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Semikhah is the name of the process through which a rabbi is ordained in Rabbinic Judaism.

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    Saying a rabbi was "ordained" is not out of the ordinary when speaking English.
    – ezra
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 5:37
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    It would be fine if a link to the Semikhah wikipedia page and short description of the process could be added? Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 15:22
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    @Chris I think it's a bit more precise to say that the final act ("graduation") is called "semicha". Until one arrives at that point, he studies various texts and different schools have slightly different requirements, though there are some common requirements among Orthodox "semicha". The studying process has no formal name. Also, "rabbi" is a title, in this case, and does not mean that one is a congregational rabbi.
    – DanF
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 18:38

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