The Lew Pell Chaplaincy Training Program

nl barkai chaplaincyThe rabbis have received 80 hours of classroom instruction in chaplaincy and are currently doing their field work at hospitals, adult day care centers and old age homes around the country, as well as in their communities. Below, Rabbi Ro'i Levy, rabbi in Kadima, described one of his field work visits:

Menashe, an elderly man of over 90, is lucid, has a healthy sense of humor and is very involved in everything going on around him. He is active and attends synagogue on Shabbatot. He often leads the davening and gets called up to the Torah.

Recently, Menashe began to feel weak and had to stop from time to time to rest. Then walking became difficult and stairs insurmountable. A few weeks ago, Menashe was really not feeling well and he was hospitalized in an internal medicine unit.

When I went to visit him, he was very pleased to see me and we spoke for approximately half an hour. He described the day he was hospitalized, and he told me that one of the hardest things for him was being told afterwards that he had reacted angrily to all those around him who wanted to care for him – reactions which are atypical for him and which he doesn't even remember.

My conversation with Menashe centered on what he was feeling. My questions revealed that he understandably felt unsteady, insecure and out of control. 

Most of the conversation consisted of me listening and trying to validate Menashe's feelings by asking directed questions. I also attempted to raise points that would improve his state of mind. I told him how missed he was in the synagogue and that his wellbeing was important to the other community members. Of course I let him know that people were praying for his recovery and that a "Misheberach" would be recited for him on the following Shabbat. 

By the time I left, I could see that Menashe was feeling better about himself. Visits like this demonstrate that a person's strength is built upon his inner well-being no less than his health and physical abilities. The knowledge that you are important to others, and the ability to express emotions knowing that someone is listening, are vital to recovery. I am so glad that the chaplaincy course has given me the skills to help people like Menashe in their times of trouble.

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The Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics aims to improve the fabric of Israeli society by intensively training Israeli rabbis in all aspects of communal rabbinics so that they can lead their communities to a more meaningful connection with Judaism and act as a unifying force in Israeli society.


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