Skip To Content

JTS Offers Parents Up to 8 Weeks Leave — Breakthrough Among Seminaries

The Jewish Theological Seminary has become the largest Jewish seminary in America to offer its employees fully paid parental leave.

The policy, which JTS announced in an email today, grants six weeks of paid parental leave to “primary caregivers” who have worked at the Conservative seminary for more than one year and eight weeks of paid parental leave to those who have worked there for more than three years.

“Secondary caregivers” who have worked at JTS for more than one year will be granted two weeks of bonding leave.

Rabbi Mychal Springer, who chaired the JTS committee that drafted the policy, said it was particularly innovative because it applies to couples of all backgrounds, whether they are straight or gay, birth parents or adoptive parents. The most important factor is whether the parent views his or her role as primary or secondary caregiver.

“This is a huge recognition of the seminary’s desire to support people in having families,” Springer said.

JTS’s new policy is a reflection of a growing movement in business, politics and society — and within the Jewish community — to establish better working conditions for families.

America is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a paid maternity leave law, leaving individual states and employers to decide whether to offer paid leave. As a result, only 13% of U.S. workers have access to paid parental leave.

According to data compiled by Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is the only other major U.S. seminary offering paid parental leave. RRC grants four weeks of paid parental leave to staff members who have worked for more than two years.

Yeshiva University, home to the leading Modern Orthodox seminary, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, only grants its employees unpaid leave.

Meanwhile, the leading Reform seminary, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, did not respond to calls and emails asking for its policy. American Jewish University, which also ordains Conservative rabbis, does not offer paid parental leave. Hebrew College in Boston declined to respond.

Shifra Bronznick, president of AWP, said JTS’s new policy was extremely important: “Symbolically, it’s very meaningful to have one of the leading Jewish theological seminaries in the world adopt this policy, particularly since many of its colleagues and counterparts have not done so yet.”

Contact Paul Berger at [email protected] or on Twitter @pdberger

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.