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Literally, my teacher. Title conferred upon a religious leader and teacher. According to historian Heinrich Graetz, the title was first used during the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., probably introduced by the disciples of Johnanan Ben Zakkai. Today, a rabbi is ordained by the head or faculty of the rabbinical seminary from which he is graduated. The present functions of a rabbi consist of the religious leadership of his or her congregation; making decisions with regard to practical questions of Jewish law; conducting services and preaching on Sabbaths, holy days, and festivals; teaching Judaism, particularly to adult groups; officiating at important events in the life of congregants, such as circumcision, marriage, and burial. In some cases, the rabbi is also the educational head of the congregational school. Many rabbis have excelled as scholars and authors of important works on religion. A number have also distinguished themselves as gifted orators and leaders of the community or of Jewish national and world movements, such as Zionism and Hebrew culture.

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