COWEN: How would you alter or improve rabbinical
training? WOLPE: I’ve given this a lot of thought.
Let me just mention one area. When I speak to rabbinical students, I tell them all the
time that the single most valuable commodity you have as a rabbi . . . you can answer that
yourself, and then I’ll tell you what I think: your voice. Most people are going to
come in contact with you when you speak to them. Not all of them, but most. There’ll
be more people who come to your services than the number of people at whose bedside you
will sit as they die. And yet, most rabbis — most people — don’t
know how to speak. That training which is given — we have homiletics classes.
But the ability to communicate, what words to use, what examples to use, how to train
your voice so that people can understand you. How often have you been in front of speakers
who you have to tell them 10 times, “Put the microphone closer please; I can’t hear
you.” Right? That ability is woefully underrepresented, I think, in the rabbinic community, and it’s
very much to our detriment.