Forty Five Towns residents are among 230 musmachim (rabbinic graduates) slated to receive semicha (rabbinical ordination) on Sunday at the largest such conferral of semicha in Yeshiva University’s history.
Two-hundred-twenty-four are first time rabbis (yoreh yoreh) — some of whom already have rabbinic positions — and six are receiving an advanced degree of yadin yadin that makes them eligible to be judges in a Torah court. They will gather on the YU campus in Washington Heights from 70 cities around the world.
One of the musmachim who currently teaches in YU’s Yeshiva College, former Far Rockaway resident Rabbi Yosef Bronstein, will speak on behalf of the group.
Conferring ordination is “the most exciting thing we do,” said Rabbi Menachem (Marc) Penner, acting dean of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). The celebration takes a year to plan and is held once every four years (there may have been more musmachim when a celebration was skipped due to war and was held after eight years, Penner noted). The March 23 assembly will take place in the Nathan Lamport Auditorium, Zysman Hall, 2540 Amsterdam Ave., “where the Rav [Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt”l, head of RIETS from 1941] used to give his big shiur,” said Penner. “The symbolism is too great to move it.” “No one knows” how many of these celebrations have been held since the founding of YU in 1896.
The original semicha was the transference of authority as commanded by G-d, from Moshe to Yehoshua and to the 70 elders; it’s been handed down from them through the generations although the true continuum is considered to have been interrupted at some point.
Actual semicha can only be conferred in Eretz Yisrael in a public way since it requires the approval of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.