A Quarterly Newsletter of NAJC        Vol. 31 No. 1 ~ Elul 5778
Rabbi Dr. Sandra Katz, BCC
Rabbi Geoff Haber, BCC
Certification Chair
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, BCC
President Elect
Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn
Conference Chair
Rabbi Rena Arshinoff, BCC
Vice President
Rabbi Dr. Moe Kaprow, BCC
Immediate Past President
Rabbi Dr. Joe Ozarowski, BCC
Rabbi Dr. Rafael Goldstein, BCC
Executive Director
Rabbi Dr. Mark Goldfarb
Secretary, Newsletter Editor
Cecille Allman Asekoff
Executive V.P. Emerita

In This Issue:

A Bit Of This… A Bit Of That…

Two Years

Joint Statement From The Strategic Partners In Spiritual Care

High Holy Day Greetings

Be Still… And Listen

Discovering Chaplaincy In Europe

100 Blessings

Rural Community Life And The Jewish Chaplain

What Chaplains And Clients Can Learn Together

Malachim And Rituals

Conference 2019 Request For Workshop Proposals

Free Music For The High Holy Days!

Caring For NAJC Members: Chesed Committee

Upcoming Events! Save These Dates

Wisconsin Chaplaincy Association Fall Conference

Confronting One’s Own Mortality: A Personal Reflection When Death Seems Near

A Journal Of Talmud Study And Personal Transformation

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Unanimously Adopted

With Our Members

New חברים

2018-19 Officers, Board & Committees

A Bit Of This… A Bit Of That…

Rabbi Dr. Sandra Katz, BCC


We have a small staff at NAJC, so a great deal of the work in our organization goes to volunteers. We are grateful for the efforts of our recent past Ethics Chair, Rabbi Dr. Shira Stern. Thanks also go to our interim Ethics Chair, Rabbi Yaacov Rone, and to Rabbi Lowell Kronick, who now chairs the committee. Rabbi Rone appointed committee members for two tasks:

  1. The ongoing work of the ethics committee
  2. Re-examining and re-writing our code

NAJC has committed to:

  1. The above mentioned review of our ethics code, to present at 2019 conference
  2. Ongoing ethics education. 
  3. Work with Strategic Partners toward retirement transition for Anne Underwood, our longtime legal counsel

Our board implemented the second promise when we assembled for our annual retreat in July this year. The session produced lively discussion and deepened our understanding of the way professional ethics processes work in chaplaincy organizations. We continue to work with our Strategic Partner organizations (ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education, Association of Professional Chaplains [APC], American Association of Pastoral Counselors [AAPC], Canadian Association for Spiritual Care [CASC/ACSS], and National Association of Catholic Chaplains [NACC]).

The events culminating in the email blast from an NAJC member regarding our efforts in professional ethics contained some information in error. As NAJC president, I handled this situation and took responsibility for the decisions made. I consulted informally with the Executive Board, and informed the larger Board of my work. I consulted extensively with our legal counsel, Anne Underwood.

This led me to contemplate a larger meta-issue in NAJC: How do we handle concerns, disagreements, and failures?

I noticed that we have seen recent examples of mishandling of such issues. Our NAJC culture offers lessons from our CPE training as a guide.

  1. We can have deep conversations about difficult topics. We call that IPR.
  2. We endeavor to avoid triangulation when we can. 
  3. We approach the responsible party with respect, even when we think that the person has done something wrong.
  4. If we don’t know where to turn to address concerns, we touch base with the Executive Director. The Executive Director can direct callers to the correct contact person.
  5. Even if the issue seems small, we find that bringing it to light helps the organization run well.

In the U.S., we hear a lot of complaints about how crass we have become. Some of this may come from people airing complaints publicly, playing “gotcha” with others, rather than working collaboratively – and all the more important when the people doing the work serve as volunteers. As chaplains, we can model caring relationships and thoughtful communication. As Rabbi Stephen S. Wise said, “Do not make yourself so big. You are not that small.”

In some places, views on failure are changing. Rather than seeing failure as a humiliation, “maker” culture encourages its members to “fail often and fail fast.” Yoda reminds Star Wars viewers that failure is “the greatest teacher.” As I integrate my own identity, I often notice that I am strongest when I have learned from my mistakes.

It’s okay to leave perfection to “the G-d of our understanding,” as 12-steppers quip. A funny thing happens when we let ourselves be vulnerable, even in our moments of struggle: we join the human race.

Board retreat 2018:

Our NAJC board generally has a retreat as a part of the commitment of our leaders. With our conference scheduled in the winter (until now!), our retreats have taken place in the summer.

This year, our summer retreat connected with the end of the joint conference held by our colleagues in the Association for Professional Chaplains (APC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). We held a round of certification panels on Sunday, July 15, and then began the retreat that evening.

I have served on the board for a long time, watching various presidents and their leadership styles. I wanted to take the best of their work and add my own twist. So I started with creating time to explore trust, relationship, and abundance as individuals and as an organization.

Using this foundation, we did a participatory Ethics training Monday morning, July 16. As we closed that part of the retreat, we talked about some of the meta-issues I detail in another article. Those who give reports sent them in advance, so we had time to discuss certification and communications at the retreat. We had time to hear our Executive Director’s vision report, along with taking a deep dive into the Treasurer’s report and considering our financial processes. Usually, we pass a budget at a retreat, but this year it had already passed, so we could focus on debriefing the budget process.

The officers gathered in the afternoon. After dinner, we all did some more work on the conversations we had begun earlier. We talked about the work of the Strategic Partners also detailed in this newsletter. Tuesday morning, I had planned to scoop up the work that remained undone. I was surprised that we had accomplished so much, and instead, we did some more team-building, processing, and sharing our vision. We blessed each other before saying good-bye Tuesday at noontime.

Through the entire retreat, Rabbi Goldstein took great care of us. He found a suitable place for us to spend time together, and a caterer who served us abundant amounts of Kosher food suitable for the 9 days of Av. I am grateful for this opportunity to connect with the board, and humbled by the opportunity to serve our organization. May we go from strength to strength!


From the President’s desk… actually, the laptop

I closed my last article with an assertion that “our greatest strength lies in our relationships with one another.” Of the North American chaplaincy organizations, NAJC has the fewest members. This reflects the demographic reality of a small Jewish population. I have called and emailed about half of you as I write this article, with other contacts on my schedule. I like to think of NAJC as small and mighty!

In my last article, I also promised more thinking material. I include here a link to an article that opened my eyes. http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/how-america-lost-track-of-the-good-life-and-where-to-find-it-now. When I was a student Rabbi in West Virginia, I saw a bumper sticker that stayed with me: Live simply, that others may simply live. I am working on my minimalist credentials, purging unwanted items after helping my mother downsize a few years ago. I have come to believe that I can live my values if I consider them with intention and take steps to reflect who I really am.

Some of you know about my recent endeavors to live my values. In 2006, when the long-term care facility where I worked was sold to a for-profit organization, I left. I moved to Rochester, NY, where I worked at a continuum of care organization for 11 years. I walked away from the job in January, shortly before our Conference in Florida. I can write more about these events in a later article. Suffice it to say that I summoned a great deal of courage to make this change. I had hoped to have another job – which I still don’t have. Fortunately, I was able to make this move without sleeping in a refrigerator box by the Erie Canal. I am learning and retooling. I believe that I owe some of my courage to my awareness of abundance in my life. I have enough, I told myself, and I am enough.

Sometimes I still wonder who that woman was. I am grateful that my decision has freed me to give much more of my time to NAJC during an interval that the organization needs my attention. As I read in a leadership book called Deep Change, I am building the bridge as I walk on it. I have encouraged our NAJC leaders to read Race for Relevance by Coerver and Byers, recommended by Rev. Carlos Bell, past president of ACPE.

I know that staying in a conventional rabbinic role would challenge me, as my theology has continued to evolve over years of witnessing illness, resilience, pain, and death. I confess to struggling with many of the classic texts of Jewish tradition. Even in seminary, I felt as if I saw who was not sitting at the table, and I felt the pain of their exclusion as my own. I have a sense that others join me in the quest to integrate a sense of the Sacred with what we have seen as human beings in our care grapple with existential issues. I wonder how what you have witnessed has changed you….

I hope that readers will feel free to contact me via email skatz@jewishchaplain.net or phone 585-750-4939. We create our ברית, our covenant community, as we engage in relationships with each other.

Respectfully submitted,

Two Years 

Rabbi Dr. Rafael Goldstein, BCC

It has been two years since I began working for NAJC. Unlike any previous job, I can honestly say that this is the best job I have ever had. I am challenged daily, have opportunities to learn and to work on my growing edges in a supportive and informed environment. And we have had some really great successes in these two years. Here are just a few: 

  • We revamped and streamlined our Certification Handbook and process so it is completely electronic. We have saved forests! And made the process much more user-friendly and easy to understand. 
  • NAJC has transformed our website, thanks to the hard work of Rabbis Mark Goldfarb and Robert Tabak. 
  • We changed from a dated and clunky list-serv to ChapLine, which now seems to have questions and discussions daily. 
  • We have created a Chesed Committee so we can better look after the spiritual needs of our members in crisis. 
  • We changed the language we use to more accurately describe our work: we are Professional Spiritual Care Specialists. 
  • We have new software that enables us to better know and support our members. 
  • We have made inroads with Federations and other employers to help them understand the efficacy of Jewish Chaplaincy. 
  • We have seminars for hospital chaplains, for Case Studies and for community chaplains.
  • We just started a workshop on Career Development with Rabbi Steve Kaye, an expert in the field. 
  • We added ימי יעון in California, and have begun planning a Yom Iyyun in Philadelphia, and sponsored ימי יעון in Miami, Chicago and Boston. More to come!
  • We have further developed our relationship with our Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care Leadership (NACC, APC, ACPE, CASC, AAPC) and have begun planning the 2020 joint conference in Cleveland. 
  • The Chai Campaign went from around $2000 in my first year to nearly $12,000 in the second year to over $19,000 this year! (There’s still time to donate!) The increased fundraising enables us to expand our programs and services without increasing our dues and conference fees.
  • We have an administrative assistant who responds well to member questions and requests and keeps our office functioning well. 
  • We moved three times in these two years. That was hard. But we now are in a great, permanent home.

The best thing about my job is the people with whom I get to work. Our Board is incredible! I had the honor of working with Moe Kaprow as President for the first year and a half, and now with Sandra Katz. As a member, I never knew how much work the President does. Both Moe and Sandra have been blessings to me. But I also get to work with our Executive Committee, Treasurer(s) Bryan Kinzbrunner until January and now Joe Ozarowski, lots of committee chairs, our people applying for certification, donors, and members who are trying to log into the website, or paying their dues, or in need of support. I get to field a few calls every week from people who are considering chaplaincy, or who are in various stages of their development as chaplains. I even get to hear complaints, attend to them, and welcome the feedback. 

Twenty-odd years ago, when I attended my first NAJC conference in San Francisco, as a non-chaplain, I never imagined I would be the Executive Director of this organization. It is an honor, privilege, and blessing for me. 

~ Rafael

Joint Statement From The Strategic Partners In Spiritual Care

In May 2018 the Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care met at the APC headquarter just outside Chicago: the executive directors and elected leadership of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, ACPE, Association of Professional Chaplains, Canadian Association for Spiritual Care, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. This face-to-face meeting was on the strategic topic of how we can deepen our partnerships for the betterment of the profession. We gathered to think deeply about the ways our goals overlap, and our current needs converge, as well as to be realistic about how we might be stronger together as a fleet of services to our members, our employers and the world than we will be if we keep on sailing in our individual boats.

Much of the day’s conversation revolved around the future of our professional discipline itself. We were joined via technology by Dr. Wendy Cadge, professor of sociology at Brandeis University and author of Paging God. She is perhaps the best friend our profession has outside our own ranks — precisely because she is “outside” looking in with a researcher’s eye with an increasingly international lens. Dr. Cadge has some of the clearest sense of the waters we now sail in. Our groups represented at the meeting are certainly not the only boats on these waters, and part of our task is the same as ever – how to collaborate with others in our fields without losing our unique sense of direction – especially in the matters vital to our profession (rigorous standards of education, certification, accreditation and ethics).

One such way that we plan to grow our partnership is to expand the joint ethics process between ACPE and APC to include the other cognate partners. The joint ethics process between APC and ACPE, which was piloted in 2004, has been a huge success for their organizations. Our intention is to grow the professionalism, fairness and compassion APC and ACPE have experienced by including in this joint process our other partner groups that have comparable standards for education, certification, accreditation and ethics.

In 2020 the leaders of these organizations and our members will gather together for another opportunity to collaborate in a Joint Conference. The planning and organizing of this conference has been a smooth and exciting process, and our hope is to build on these relations to partner and coordinate more activities together. With each organization heading up a portion of the joint conference, we all have equal skin in the game. Our goal is to provide a dynamic and inclusive experience for members from all the organizations and to foster an environment of collaboration as well as unity.

We know that chaplaincy and pastoral counseling specifically, as well as spiritual care in all forms in general are growing disciplines. In a world where more and more people are drifting away from traditional religious settings while maintaining a “spiritual” identity, the need for sophisticated, high-quality spiritual care in institutional and other professional settings is destined to grow. In a world where more and more people are drifting away from traditional religious settings while maintaining a “spiritual” identity, the need for sophisticated, high-quality spiritual care in institutional settings is destined to grow. In the face of such opportunities it is incumbent upon us more than ever to ensure that we are training, vetting and certifying the highest quality professionals to serve the field. This is an historic opportunity.

With these opportunities in mind, our groups plan an additional step to deepening our relationships and furthering the profession. We feel that now is an appropriate time to speak together with a unified voice when advocating for professional excellence in spiritual care. Presently the Strategic Partners are laying the groundwork to join with ACPE’s Advocacy Committee to speak for the profession and to advance the work of professional chaplains and spiritual care providers and their role in their institutions.

We have a spirit of collaboration and resolve that is energizing. In as much as each of the Strategic Partners has unique tasks, needs, services, and concerns, we are evermore dedicated to working with professional organizations that have (1) a shared view of the role of professionals in spiritual health and psycho-spiritual counseling, (2) aligned missions and values, and (3) shared commitments on how best to grow and inspire the future of the discipline. The vision of the Strategic Partners is to formalize a relationship that enables us together to act to ensure all those we serve experience the highest quality spiritual care and to safeguard the future of the spiritual care profession.

We are enthusiastic about our continued work as Strategic Partners and growing our group of allies for the betterment of the profession, in service to our members and all those they serve.

(Back row: Pat Appelhans, Exec Dir, APC, David Lichter, Exec Dir, NACC, Trace Haythorne, Exec Dir, ACPE,  Ron Oliver, Pres-Elect, APC, Mary T O’Neill, Pres, NACC,  Amy Green, Pres, ACPE. Front row: Carol Pape, COO, APC, Tony Sedfawi, Exec Dir, CASC, Claire Bamberg, AAPC, Jan Temple-Jones, Pres, CASC, Sandra Katz, Pres, NAJC, Rafael Goldstein, Exec Dir, NAJC, Martha Rucker, Pres, APC.)

High Holy Day Greetings From Your Friends At NAJC

Rena Arshinoff Miriam Berkowitz Fredda Cohen
David Fine Mark Goldfarb Rafael Goldstein
Geoff Haber Margo Heda Lev Herrnson
Moe Kaprow Sandra Katz Bryan Kinzbrunner
Cary Kozberg Karen Lieberman Lynn Liberman
Neal Loevinger Alissa Thomas-Newborn Joe Ozarowski
Rochelle Robins Jessica Shafrin Ruth Smith
Michelle Stern Jason Weiner


Be Still… And Listen

Cantor Jacqueline Marx

I spent the past 11 weeks doing the full-time CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) Summer Internship at Duke University Hospital. This program earns you one unit hour towards the four needed to become an accredited hospital chaplain. I was not an easy study; heck, it took me four tries just to get accepted to a CPE program. You really have to know what’s what even before you enter.

In order to learn what you don’t already know, you have to KNOW what you don’t already know. Then you have to be able to articulate that to your instructors. And as I rack up more years in this life, that’s no easy feat. Which doesn’t mean I don’t constantly feel I’m missing something upstairs.

CPE and the mitzvah of  ביקור חולים are about as far apart from each other as east is from west. I have spent many years visiting hospitalized and homebound folks. Please don’t misunderstand when I say it’s one of the most rewarding parts of my Cantorate. The rumor that I was late to my own installation in 1997 because I stayed at a nursing home coaxing a patient to eat? True. PS – I succeeded; he ate. Somehow the sight of a cantor in your hospital room conveys the representation of God-self visiting the sick. Or so I rested upon my laurels in thinking.

A chaplain is not a medic. I don’t have to understand someone’s meds or dosages in order to be there for them. I don’t need to know a patient’s pathology in order to brighten their day with a visit. But suppose the day can’t be brightened? Suppose the news is less good than someone hoped to hear? Suppose physical pain has put up a barrier to the patient’s feeling love, or joy, or gratitude, or even the blessing of family. Sometimes that pain is a guest for a day or a week or a month. Sometimes pain and infirmity move in permanently and become someone’s life partner. How do we help when we can’t make someone feel better, or when it’s nigh unto impossible for someone to express what they need? CPE is how we name the beginning of the answer to these questions.

Our first instinct when someone we care about is crying is to comfort them; to somehow stanch the pain. I learned sixteen years ago before my son’s arrival from South Korea that our best interests can produce the worst results. On several occasions during Harry’s first two weeks Stateside, he would stop in the middle of whatever his five-month-old self was doing; position himself on all fours, and keen like a mortally wounded beast. He was grieving the life he had left behind two-thirds of the way around the world. Oh, how badly I wanted to gather him into my arms, blot his tears with my kisses, and hug his hurt into healing! To do so would have stopped his pain in the short-term, but buried it in the long. No, my child, like so many others internationally adopted, had a river of longing to cross; and cross it he must if he were to progress forward. So I positioned myself as close by him as I could. I let him know I was near. I murmured words of love and comfort, but I did not touch him or physically comfort him until he had cried himself out.

The expectation that we can pull another person out of a well of despair into our foothills of joy is not only unrealistic; it is arrogant. The journey we must make in order to even start to bring healing is to step into the other person’s valley of sadness or depression or agony…and dwell with them there. We must allow the other person to own their hurt legitimately, and we must honor that pain before we can start to gently encourage them from it. How long does this take? How long have you got? And sometimes your internship ends and you know that you will not be the one to see them come out of their cloud. Remember the words of  פרקי אבות: “It is not up to you to complete the work…but neither are you free to refrain from it.”

Be still… and listen. You will hear and understand more than you ever expected.
~ Jacqueline

Cantor Jacqueline Marx was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Sacred Music in 1997.  She lives with her family in an enchanted forest near Chapel Hill, NC.  She attended a Methodist weekday kindergarten, and has now racked up another Methodist alma mater in Duke Hospital.

Discovering Chaplaincy In Europe

Rabbi Valerie Stessin, BCC

I like to be a pioneer. After becoming the first woman ordained as a rabbi by the Conservative movement in Israel, I embarked on a journey that included being one of the founders of the spiritual care field in Israel. And now I’m part of helping the nascent European field develop!

The ENHCC – The European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy, was only founded in November 2000 in Crete, so the professional field there is quite young.  This past June, I had the honor to represent Neshama-NAJC at the group’s 15th Consultation (conference) in Blankenberge, Belgium. It was the first time our organization was represented.

And only a week before the conference, I was just three hours away (by train) in the country of my birth – France – leading the third training seminar on Jewish Spiritual Care in Paris. This initiative was developed by “Soin et Spiritualité,” the new association that I founded with French partners, to implement Spiritual Care in the framework of the large Jewish community in France. 

At the ENHCC conference, held once every two years, there were more than eighty chaplains from twenty-two different countries. During four days, we learned from various specialists in the field of Spiritual Care. Every morning began with deep and emotional ecumenical prayer – like walking meditations near the sea shore, prayers of awe in front of the amazing and secret marine world and prayers for the peace and safety for the refugees who try to save their lives, flying away in fragile boats. The coordinator of the Network, Father Simon Evers and the organizer of the consultation, Professor Axel Liegeois, planned an intense learning program which included well known guest speakers like Cheryl Holmes from Australia and Daniel Grossoehme from Cincinnati – USA. Each day included conferences, learning workshops and time for discussions. 

I was thrilled to have a chance to bring a Jewish element to the conference by giving a presentation introducing participants to Hebrew Nigunim as a form of spiritual connection and meditation. The workshop was an opportunity to discover some spiritual Jewish melodies, learn their meaning and tunes. We discussed how those may be a meaningful way for chaplains from various backgrounds to nourish their soul and stay attuned with their own spirituality.

Professor Anne Vandenhoeck gave a presentation on the new European Research Institute for Chaplains in Healthcare, ERICH, which was founded in 2014, to promote research by chaplains into chaplaincy practice and to encourage reflection on its theoretical underpinning. ERICH seeks to support such research through education and mentoring with the aim of enhancing spiritual care for patients, their loved ones and health care staff. 

The overall theme of the conference was “Nurturing Spirituality in Healthcare Chaplaincy”. Nurturing means that we develop, cultivate and enhance spirituality in healthcare chaplaincy. To express this, we use the image of the tree, the emblem of the consultation. The tree is the whole of healthcare chaplaincy. The leaves and fruits of the tree are the outcome of our work. We can only achieve these fruits if we are well nurtured. This is done by the roots of the tree: they provide nutrition, motivation and inspiration. Without good roots, without spirituality, the tree cannot bear good fruit and healthcare chaplaincy is not powerful, real and authentic. 

As a network, the ENHCC promotes a high quality standard of Health Care Chaplaincy in Europe. It enhances the development of professional guidelines required to minister to the existential and spiritual needs of patients, relatives and staff, drawing on personal, religious, cultural and community resources. The group has representatives from Churches, Faiths and National Associations and is rooted in Christianity, as expressed in European Cultures. 

If you wish to learn more about ENHCC – visit the website http://www.enhcc.eu/ 

and about ERICH – visit the website http://www.pastoralezorg.be/page/erich/

~ Valerie

Rabbi Valerie Stessin, BCC, is an Israeli member of NAJC and Director of the Schwartz Center for Health and Spirituality – Jerusalem

100 Blessings

David Balto

I am a Chaplain in an 900 bed inner city hospital in Washington DC. As a Chaplain, I love to bless and recognize blessings. And once a year we go to all the units and bless the hands of scores of nurses. Blessings are the substance of my spiritual day.

But as I walk through the hospital I often see associates who are probably not blessed and probably do not receive a thank you. Perhaps no one talks to them in their workday and they are often overlooked. What happens to the woman who cleans the bathrooms, the dishwasher, the cooks and food preparers, the men who remove the trash? The associates who run the infrastructure, make sure the hospital is clean, keep the machines operational — do they realize we are grateful for their efforts? Do they feel blessed?

And for myself, I reflect as I pass the person moving beds, the clean up crews, the trash collector, do I notice them? Do I fully recognize their work? Have I expressed my gratitude?

So I decided one day to try to change that.

There is a Jewish tradition of saying 100 blessings a day. Jews have blessings for practically everything, from lifting sleep from one’s eyes, to seeing beautiful objects, to the blessings of nature and for the simplest bodily functions. 

As Tevye notes in Fiddler on the Roof, “Jews have blessings for practically everything.”

In that spirit, I decided to offer 100 blessings on a particular day in a different way. Rather than saying the traditional 100 blessings in our liturgy, I would find 100 associates who do not normally deal with the public and bless them. I prepared 100 blessing cards to hand out to whomever agreed to receive a blessing.

The hospital is a huge campus with thousands of support staff. I searched throughout the hospital finding the places in the deep infrastructure unknown to the public. I blessed associates that sweep floors, wash dishes, empty bedpans, move equipment, gather trash, answer phones, fix computers, and transport patients. They were people who rarely are acknowledged for the work they do, who often are overlooked, who rarely hear the words of gratitude.

I asked them their name, how they were. I asked them if they wanted a blessing and if they said yes I took them by the hands and blessed them.

May these hands be blessed for the loving care they give.

May these hands be blessed for the kindness they show.

May these hands be blessed for the great mitzvot (good deeds) they perform.

May there be a great blessing on these hands.

I was touched by so many of the encounters. In the kitchen, staff people would grab me and say, you must bless my colleague. Some staff would tell me of fears and concerns and asked for prayer. Associates would tell me of relatives and friends who also needed a blessing. I found people who rarely see another person whose spirits were lifted by the words of blessing. And I gave some people the chance to pause and recognize the blessings of their work, how what they did affected the lives of everyone in the hospital, the patients, the staff, and the public.

One encounter that touched me was a cleaning person who had just cleaned the room where a patient died. He told me of how he worked so hard to make the place completely spotless. How he felt it was sacred space that a person had died there and he wanted to make the space perfectly clean for the next patient. I blessed his strong and kind spirit.

I learned three invaluable lessons from giving these blessings.

We typically do not see or acknowledge the tremendous efforts of all the dedicated employees who make the hospital work. Just as we say in Psalms that a human being is “wondrously made,” a hospital functions because of the efforts of thousands of people focused on a wide variety of tasks, many of which require tremendous effort.

Second, taking the time to acknowledge, speak with, greet, thank and bless another helps the support staff recognize their own humanness and the vital nature of the tasks they are dedicated to. There is a hidden seed of wholeness in each person; acknowledging and blessing the person helps that seed blossom. And it reminds the person that they are performing a holy task in serving others.

Finally, the one who offers a blessing is blessed as well. When we bless we recognize the blessings we have received. As Rabbi Marcia Falk observes, “when we bless others we free the goodness in them and in ourselves. When we bless life we restore the world.”

I felt I received the greatest blessing by giving blessings that day. It expanded my heart and helped me see God in so many faces. Perhaps some days the greatest blessing we can give is to those who work in humble silence to get the job done. 

I am reminded of Marge Piercy’s words:

To be of use


The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.


Rural Community Life And The Jewish Chaplain

Chaplain Susan Katz

Last year I relocated from Vancouver, Canada to a tiny desert town in Southern California, primarily to improve my health, which was failing due to a rare vascular condition.

I very quickly learned that there were no other observant Jews in town. I had arrived in May, when the temperatures were only in the low 100’s and fewer than 1,000 people remain in the area. Scattered throughout the desert, we were all finding ways to keep safe and occupied during the extreme temperatures, much as Alaskans might do in the wintertime. A great source of entertainment often was to phone a neighbor and ask what temperature their thermometer showed: most don’t register above 120ºF: but some of us had fancy ones that exceed that, we celebrated temperatures that went up to 132ºF last summer!

I found Jewish community and friendship in the (relatively) nearby Coachella Valley. There, I could buy kosher meat at Trader Joe’s, attend synagogue, and enjoy home hospitality before the 1-1/2hour drive home. Because of my health sensitivities, the normal and ordinary urban busy-ness, noise and air pollution didn’t allow me to live in the city; I was glad to head home to my far away off-the-grid desert town to decompress.

And so, I found myself devoted to a small town that had never had an observant Jew living in it, as far as anyone could remember. During ‘the season’ from October-April, a small handful of Jewish people came to stay, their Jewish connection primarily via social parties in December and Passover time. The other two ‘year-round residents included a person who had married an Egyptian, converted to Islam, and was now single again and not sure which direction to choose religiously; and the other had discovered their Jewish roots only recently and linked with Judaism via an online study group that met on Shabbat mornings.

In the meantime, I became a member of our local Ministers Association, which up until then only had Christian and Catholic members. There are also some civic members: from the American Legion, the School Board, and the local Medical Clinic. We meet monthly and together bring up pastoral needs in our community, which are considerable. We are located on the eastern-most edge of the county, and are unfortunately one of the lowest income areas in the county, overall. So, having our civic members has been a boon with regard to identifying needs in the community.

We religious professional apply our knowledge and insight into how best to help individuals pastorally and provide charitable support, and solve community issues, such as lack of public transportation.

We may be asked to evaluate giving a donation to an individual, for example a single mother with three little ones who is about to have her power shut off in the midst of the desert summer. How do we do this? Do we just pay the bill from our coffers, or is there more assistance to provide? As a Chaplain, I tend to see the big picture, beyond the immediate request for funds: I ask, do the children have enough to eat? What is the mother’s long-term plan for coping with desert life and high utility bills? I also try to apply Maimonides’ Ladder of צדקה. Some want to rush into just paying the whole bill, but my Jewish roots tell me that there are rules about giving charity that empower rather than make recipients dependent. By bringing these Jewish traditions into the discussion, I am finding my Jewish Chaplain niche and voice in service with this group.

We also have community worship services for public holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Easter. That is when our Ministers Association passes out baskets to the attendees that will collect a few thousand dollars to sustain our charitable work.

We had a discussion after Thanksgiving about the annual Easter Sunrise Service, and I floated the idea of having an Interfaith Seder. They loved the idea! And to my surprise, they insisted that they wanted it to be an authentic Jewish סדר, strictly כשר לפסח, reading the whole הגדה, and its songs.

I was pleasantly surprised, but also very limited by my health, so I had to think fast. I was already distressed about making my home כשר for myself, let alone hosting a dozen or so clergy and their partners! The image of how Tom Sawyer elicited helpers came to mind, and I told them that I needed help. I also told them that Judaism was a religion of doing, not just prayers and rituals, and that making the house כשר is an essential part of the spiritual preparation for the 8-days of living without חמץ, the full Passover experience. This brought up the opportunity to describe what חמץ is and why it’s good to live without it for a week.

It was a pleasure to see their enthusiasm! They were on board and gangbusters to kascher my home and also to cook, because therein would be more lessons about what keeping כשר truly is.

We had a study session a few weeks before Passover to discuss the holiday, its origins, more about חמץ, what our Jewish סדר would look like, and how it differs from a Christian seder.

It was all a great success! they came in teams and did everything from packing my kitchen away and installing new dishes and shelf liners, to cooking the turkey and making pesa-diche stuffing, to setting the table with the ritual items. They stayed longer at the Seder than any Jewish family or synagogue gathering I’ve hosted, and after 5 hours I had let them know that I needed to rest.

They insisted on reading the Whole Haggadah and did a great job with choruses of all the songs, right to חד גדיה. It was a delight, and a photo is here for you to see.

April was not all about Passover for the Ministers Association: we had serious business to prepare the Easter Sunrise Service, the second big community multi-faith gathering of the year, and source of charitable donations. To my surprise, they invited me to participate, and to my surprise—I accepted. I guess my work with the American Red Cross in Southeastern Texas during Hurricane Harvey prepared me for public worship services in ministry to people of all faiths.

The Ministers assigned me the role of reading a few lines of Psalm 118. In preparation, I read those selected lines over very carefully, and they certainly had an Easter theme when read in isolation. As the time drew nearer, we were left with no one to introduce the members of our Association; I volunteered, knowing that this meant a Jewish Chaplain would be introducing the town’s otherwise Christian/Catholic Ministers Association at an Easter Sunrise Service! But I did. And when I read the lines of the Psalm, I first read them, very eloquently, in Hebrew–then English. Here is a photo of the Easter Sunrise Service, when I am introducing the Ministers. Breathtaking, isn’t it?

I had moved to this remote town to be in the quiet and calm of nature and rural isolation, hoping to improve my quality of health: but have been pleased to find warmth and fellowship through shared pastoral work with my local community colleagues in faith.

By the way, my health is much better. I was able to have the life-saving surgery here in the USA that was not possible in Canada. I can look forward to more ways to serve both in the urban Jewish community and the rural area where I live at home, where such love and interest for a Jewish voice as a full partner in community pastoral care needs can be heard.


Interfaith Clergy Association Seder







What Chaplains And Clients Can Learn Together

Miriam Herscher

It was the winter of 2018 and I was struggling with my 26 year old son, still living at home, and still going to college for his BA degree. He had graduated the first time in 2010 with an AA degree in Graphic Design from an excellent design school, one of the best in the country, and had worked on and off on in design over the years. He had also worked full time for several years, not in the profession.

I decided I needed a support group for parents who also struggled with “failure to launch” young adults. Having completed considerable research in the Jewish community, I found  that no group existed!

So I decided there must be a need, and I decided to create a group!

As a community chaplain with the Jewish Board, the largest human services agency in NY State, and the only staff chaplain in the Jewish Community Services Division, I began the group in February, 2018, in response to what we perceived to be a  need within the Jewish community. We advertised in Upper West Side Synagogues as well as within our regular monthly newsletter, and on our website.

The response was quick and overwhelming.

We began the group with nine participants representing 6 two-parent families; 4 from one synagogue, 1 from another, and one from personal referral. All families except one (with a daughter) have sons at home, between 21 and 28. When we began, not one of them was working. At this time, one is in school, and 3 are working either part or full time.

All 9 parents have continued to attend almost every meeting and have formed a cohesive and supportive community. They have shared their experiences as parents of young adults who have not measured up to their expectations, who are living at home beyond what they expected, about whom they worry, and who do not always communicate with their parents. They support each other’s struggles, each other’s small triumphs and the small successes that each son has made, and they have made some progress since the group began.

The parents have found a safe space to express their disappointment, their longing, their concerns over what they may have done wrong, their inability to speak with other parents of “launched” young adults, and their withdrawal sometimes from social activities with these families who may ask, as one father put it, the dreaded question,” and what is your child doing.”

The pain is palpable, the concern great, and the second-guessing prevalent.

They are, however,  learning tools to cope, to parent differently learning they have only a small opening to have influence, to trust themselves more and to have limited expectations, to recognize that their kids are anxious and disappointed themselves, and to change their behaviors to not include any negative messages or tell their kids what to do, to back off, and it is working!

It is an honor and a privilege to work with this group and see the changes and see their confidence grow!

I have learned from them as well, and we are all learning together. I have found my group though I am not their peer and I do not share my story.  I have been comforted as I provide comfort for them.

We will create a second group in October, as this has clearly met a need within the Jewish community.

May we and our young adults  go from strength to strength!


מלאכים And Rituals

Barry E. Pitegoff

מלאכים, angels, in the form of real people, touch us in ways they may never realize, and that touch “made all the difference,” as poet Robert Frost wrote in 1916 about “The Road Not Taken.”  Two CCAR Rabbis touched me that way in 1991-1992 and, Erev Pesach this year, I was able to reconnect with them and thank them, after 28 years, because of a call out of the blue from a writer for Hadassah Magazine. 

In 1991, my first wife, of blessed memory, received the terminal diagnosis of ovarian cancer. With my rabbi out of town, Rabbi Ron Goff (CCAR), the Hillel Rabbi at FSU Tallahassee, rushed to my side. Six weeks after Elaine’s death in March 1992, Ron called and said, “let’s go to lunch.” Ron asked, with my studying and volunteering in chaplaincy and managing the Jewish cemeteries in Tallahassee, and with Elaine always keeping her RN license active (having returned to NYU and acquired a Ph.D. in Victorian Literature), “Barry, you folks knew so much about that journey, what helped and what was difficult?” I paused and pondered. Then, I replied, “Ron, I knew the words to say in Hebrew and what to do to put the wedding ring on my finger, but I do not know the words to say and when to take the wedding ring off my finger.”  

Ron replied, “That’s what rituals are for…and we do not have one for that…so why don’t you write one?” A few weeks later I gave Ron a draft, he changed only one word, and sent it somewhere, but I forgot where, and I lost my own copy. He had sent it to CCAR, which had sent me a release form so that CCAR might use it. I lost my copy and asking the librarians at CCAR and HUC was futile. 

Then, a few days before פסח this year, a writer for Hadassah Magazine called, working on an article on rituals and aging, and working from my ritual. She shared that the ritual was part of Rabbi Richard Address’ (CCAR) web site, jewishsacredaging.org   I had met Rabbi Address about 30 years before also, but had no idea that he was teaching with that ritual. It can be found on page 16 of his manual, at http://jewishsacredaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/New-Rituals-for-New-Life-Stages.pdf. The title is “With this ring.” Another ritual for the same purpose by another author follows it  Thanks to CCAR headquarters and http://jewishsacredaging.com, I , once again, made phone contact with Rabbis Goff and Address to thank them. 

In the manner that two מלאכים, Rabbis Goff and Address, touched me, perhaps, with my writing having sat all these years on the Jewish sacred aging website, perhaps I have been a מלאך to others. May the blessing have come full circle. Amen. 

~ Barry

Barry is Staff Chaplain per diem, St.Anthony Community Hospital, Warwick, New York,
and just completed his fourth extended unit of CPE.

2019 NAJC Annual Conference Request For Workshop Proposals (RFP)

NAJC Conference 2019
Change and Holiness
השתנות וקדושה
May 5 — 8, 2019
Cherry Hill, NJ

All vessels, whole or shattered, are inhabited by holiness. Developments in the field of chaplaincy and in NAJC, and divisions in the Jewish community can all be addressed by change. Change is a holy endeavor.

Requirements for All Proposals:

We welcome proposals from individuals as well as panel submissions. Workshop presenters will orient their presentations such that they fall within one of the aforementioned categories, multiple examples of which appear below:

1. Reaching In: Patient Care and Jewish Texts

  • Spiritual Assessment
  • Recent Research
  • Employment/Career
  • Tanya
  • Rabbinic/Tanakh

2. Reaching Out: Underserved Communities

  • Marginalized Communities, e.g. LGBTQIA, People of Color, People with Disabilities, etc.
  • Advance Directive
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Spiritual Trauma

3. Reaching Up: Spiritual Modalities, Division and Unity in the Jewish Community

  • Change within the landscape of the Jewish Community/Brokenness and Wholeness in the greater Jewish Community
  • Reiki
  • Art therapy
  • Music
  • Movement (Labyrinths, Yoga, Dance)
  • Meditation

Proposals will only be accepted through the NAJC website and must include:

  • Tentative title 
  • Abstract/Description (150-500 words) 
  • Outline 
  • Selected bibliography 
  • Contact information of the presenter and, in the case of a panel, all other participants (name, institutional affiliation, phone number, and email address).  
  • Individual photo (headshot image) 
  • Biography of presenter(s) (150-500 words) 
  • Name and contact information of potential sponsor(s) for your workshop 
  • Method of Instructional Delivery (lecture, discussion, experiential) 

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. As only 15 workshops are scheduled at the upcoming conference, a panel will review all submissions and select which proposals will be accepted for presentation.

All presentations must include at least one NAJC member as a presenter.

 Due Date for submissions is November 1st, 2018.

 To submit a proposal, please sign into your member portal on Member 365 and fill out the Proposal Form located on your dashboard on the upper right portion of the screen.

Free Music For The High Holy Days!

 To assist NAJC members in their work, NAJC member Cantor Cheri Weiss is pleased to make copies of her CD Hineni: Music for the High Holy Days available to NAJC members at no cost. In addition, NAJC members may request copies for anyone they work with who wants the entire album and is unable to attend synagogue services; if cost is a limitation, NAJC members may request additional free copies directly from Cheri. Click here to learn more about Cheri; click here to request your complimentary copy of Cheri’s CD (which is also available in digital download format at no charge).

The downloadable version is free for and includes liner notes. A CD is available for $4, to cover postage/handling. 

Email Cantor Cherie Weiss: cheri@hazzanit.com.

You can hear samples of the music at: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/cheriweiss

NAJC Cares: Chesed Committee



Chesed Committee

The NAJC Chesed Committee has been a tremendous success and has provided support for NAJC members living with illness, in economic crisis, or experiencing loss.


Upcoming Events! Save These Dates:

October 17, 2018: Psalms in the Key of Healing: Applying Text, Midrash and Music in our work and daily lives, 9:30 AM — 4 PM. This Yom Iyun will be held at the Barbara & Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center of JFCS, 345 Montgomery Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. Featuring Rabbi Dr. H. Rafael Goldstein, BCC as a presenter.

October 24th, 2018: What Mortality Can Teach Us About Living, 9 AM — 5 PM.
This Yom Iyun is hosted by the Academy for Jewish Religion, California and will be held at 574 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (UCLA Hillel Building). Featuring: Dr. Ira Byock, founder & Chief Medical Director, Institute for Human Caring, Providence St. Joseph Health, and panelists: Rabbi Jason Weiner, BCC, Rabbi Rochelle Robins BCC, Joel L. Kushner, Psy.D. Director, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, and Rabbi Dr. H. Rafael Goldstein

May 5 — 8, 2019: NAJC Conference Conference Theme: Change and Holiness, השתנות וקדושה, to be held in Cherry Hill, NJ.

May 2020: Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care Leadership  Conference (ACPE, APC, NAJC, CASC) will be held in Cleveland, OH.

Wisconsin Chaplaincy Association Fall Conference

Finding the Sacred Through Story
October 14-16, 2018

Heidel House Resort & Spa
643 Illinois Avenue
Green Lake, WI 54941

Master storytellers and teachers Renee Brachfeld and Rabbi Mark Novak are co-founders of the Multifaith Storytelling Institute. Join them as they offer a unique opportunity to engage attendees in the storytelling process for use in chaplaincy and pastoral work.

For more information and to register:

Confronting One’s Own Mortality: A Personal Reflection When Death Seems Near

Rabbi Natan Fenner, BCC

(Tailor to your situation by selecting optional bracketed text or adding your own words)

אבינו מלכינו, Eternal Source of Compassion, Who knows the end of every living thing, the inner stirrings of both human and beast, What is our life before you? What is our portion? Though I am neither prophet nor sage, I [fear / sense] my name is not written through to the end of this [coming] year in the Book of Life. 

I humbly acknowledge that my healing and my dying are in your hands. May I have the strength and clarity to continue choosing Life in ways that honor [Your Torah / Your creation / my / our most sacred and deeply cherished values and desires] And, I pray, may I [and my loved ones] be written for life and blessing, forgiveness and love, [ _______ and _______ ] dignity and peace each and every day that you return me [us] to life. 

Guide us in paths of righteousness, in the ways of your Torah whose pathways are Peace. 

Blessed are you, יי, who sustains us and brings us close to the sacred tasks of this most poignant time. 


A Journal Of Talmud Study And Personal Transformation

A book review
by Paula Van Gelder, BCC

For those of you who have not yet discovered  If All the Seas Were Ink, by Ilana Kurshan (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), I’d like to introduce you to a masterful literary debut by a writer with a unique voice and perspective.  Though the subtitle of this book calls it “A Memoir,” I think that the work goes far beyond what a reader might expect from that description. 

While this slim (199-page) volume covers pertinent moments and memories during more than seven years in the author’s life, the book is much more than a journal.  Among other things, it offers a unique personal midrash on selected passages in the Talmud, based on the author’s study of the daf yomi during one complete cycle of seven-and-a-half years, reflecting what was happening in her personal and professional life during that period.

This work evolved during a very challenging time in the author’s life.  Kurshan had followed her new husband to Jerusalem from her home in New York, but in less than a year, the marriage had ended in divorce, and the author was left in a strange new land and culture, struggling with feelings of failure and fear of the unknown.  While jogging with a friend one early morning, Kurshan learned about the study of Talmud at the rate of a page a day, and began the study of this massive text, which proved to fill her life with renewed meaning and perspective. She expertly weaves together what tractate she was studying at a particular time with what was simultaneously happening in her personal life, sharing her reflections and insights with the reader.  Spoiler alert:  Four years after her divorce, Kurshan marries a man, a university professor and kindred soul, who shares her love of English literature and Torah study. They both attend classes taught by Avivah Zornberg and continue to learn daf yomi together as they raise their family.

Here is a taste of Kurshan’s voice and sensibilities: “And so I followed the text, but the text also followed me through the various twist and turns my life took…. Daf yomi reminded me that I am, first and foremost, a reader and a lover of texts….Whenever possible, I tried to learn with a pencil in hand so I could jot down my thoughts.  Those pencil jottings formed the basis for this book, an effort to trace the path of my learning and living these past seven and a half years….” as the author traveled from despair to a feeling of being blessed by learning so much “from the text, from the world beyond the text, and from the ever-widening intersection of text and life…”

Kurshan describes herself as an intensely private person, so it took an extra measure of courage for her to share some of the more painful parts of her story, including a struggle with anorexia in her youth, as well as her encounters with depression. She also shares some of her religious/spiritual upbringing and sensibilities as the product of a Conservative home and education and a feminist, who participates in and leads services for an egalitarian minyan. 

Kurshan brings a wealth of academic knowledge, a lifetime of reading, a romantic soul and a poet’s sensibility, as well as a deep spiritual/mystical core to this unique work.  Her life has always been filled with the written word, determining her choice of academic major and her work as an editor, literary agent and translator. 

When she studies a page of Talmud, thoughts and associations arise unbidden from a multitude of personal memories and literary works that she cherishes.  For example, while studying Ketubot, Kurshan contrasts the role of women in Talmudic times to the present era. And thus my thoughts turned to Virginia Woolf, who tried to find answers to her own questions about femininity in the books about women’s history lining the walls of the British Museum…..marveling at just how many books were written by men about women.

Kurshan is a highly accomplished writer, with a gift for words and apt quotations from some of her favorite authors. Her academic credentials help explain her confident use of language and literary allusions. A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge Universities, she has been an avid reader of great literature her entire life. In addition to Woolf, she references Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Amos Oz, Walt Whitman, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Oliver, Alexander McCall Smith, and Alfred Lord Tennyson, to name just a few of the authors whose works she has internalized.

Kurshan is still a young woman, and I suspect that we will be hearing more from and about her in the years to come.


Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Unanimously Adopted

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was unanimously adopted by the six Strategic Partners for Spiritual Care (AAPC, NACC, ACPE, APC, CASC/ACSS, NAJC) to deepen relationships and capitalize on strategic opportunities in order to ensure all those served by the Strategic Partners have the best possible spiritual care and to safeguard the future of the spiritual care profession.  This MOU frames our commitment to develop a mutually agreeable and beneficial way of organizing ourselves that will allow the Strategic Partners to align respective resources, take strategic action in areas where goals overlap and where needs converge, and to develop a fleet of services for our members, our employers, and all those we are privileged to serve.  Combined with the “Joint Statement from the Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care” (issued July 10, 2018), this MOU represents the next significant step in the continuous improvement and integration of the profession. 

Strategic Partners for Spiritual Care
Memorandum of Understanding
June, 20, 2018

Parties Involved:

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), Association of Professional Chaplains(APC), American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de Soins Spirituels (CASC/ACSS), National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC), and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) (“the Associations”) met on Thursday, May 24, 2018 to explore types of partnership that would create the structure that would allow them as a unified entity and voice to accomplish both outward purposes for marketing, influence, and advocacy, and inward purposes for certification, ethics, and other mutual benefits. It was decided that the Associations draft and agree to this Memorandum of Understanding that states common objectives, responsibilities / conditions for participation, and timeline.


The Associations agreed that the changing demographics of religious affiliations, with the rise of those not adhering to any religion, the changes in the health care environments and the role of spiritual care, and the challenges to the spiritual care profession requires the Associations evermore intentional and dedicated, unified collaboration on the behalf of the spiritual care/chaplaincy profession. The Associations explored the feasibility of creating a 501(c)(6) (Trade Association) and discussed the value of a merger to advance the profession (and avoid some of the inherent limitations of a 501(c)(6)). In consideration of these options, the Associations unanimously agreed that the best next step would be to devote themselves to articulate how and for what purpose they intend to become Partners for Professional Excellence in Spiritual Care (PPESC). The assumption is: by structured collaboration we are poised to capitalize on strategic opportunities in order to ensure all those served by the Associations have the best possible spiritual care and to safeguard the  future of the spiritual care profession.

Common Objectives:

In service of determining and articulating how and for what purpose we may seek to form a new entity, the Associations will:

Frame its partnership by:

  • Articulating a unified mission and vision toward becoming a unified voice on behalf of the profession.
  • Choosing a name by which this partnership will be known.
  • Proposing a structure for mutual engagement and commitment that includes how to:
    ~ Share responsibility/authority (representation, governance)
    ~ Direct, drive, and support agreed upon projects (leadership/staff)
    ~ Sustain the created entity (funding)

As means to the partnership framework, target short-term projects including:

  • Explore/determine the feasibility of using ACPE’s Advocacy Committee as a voice for the whole, including a rep from each association, including agenda-settings and select activities for FY2018-19.
  • Explore/determine feasibility of joint Professional Ethics Procedures/Processes.
  • Explore/determine feasibility of a joint employment service, such as American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). https://www.aarweb.org/employment-services/employment-listings

Responsibilities/Conditions For Participation


The Associations will create a Steering Committee with each association being represented by two individuals: one board and/or one staff members. The Steering Committee will be responsible to lead and ensure the completion of the desired objectives of the MOU. The Steering Committee will function with a rotating leadership structure (facilitation and keeping of minutes) to direct and drive the process. Documents will be kept by APC with electronic copies to all participants of this MOU. 


During this MOU any shared financial costs will be handled through ACPE as the financial group for this MOU. A bank account will be set up to be used for accumulation of revenue and payment of all expenses pertaining to the MOU activities. Each organization will agree to deposit $2,000 in their own currency (CAD/USD), in the joint account in order to cover ordinary expenses incurred prior to the receipt of any funds received specifically for MOU projects.

Decisions about any other major financial investment that might be identified during the time of this MOU will be considered on an issue by issue basis by diverse formulas, from shared equally to  some form of proportionality, depending on the item. It is further stipulated that any of the original $2,000 deposit from each association will be returned to that association after the completion of the MOU objectives.

ACPE will sign all checks up to $2,500. Any expenditures over that amount will require the approval of the Chair and Vice Chair. The ACPE Executive Director will be a signor on the account.


The Steering Committee will engage the services of an accountant, if needed, that will monitor the income and disbursements of the MOU projects. The firm will issue a written report to the Steering Committee no later than eight weeks following the completion of this MOU.

All MOU expenses will be reflected on the balance sheet of the ACPE annual audit. Any surplus or loss will be shared equally by the Associations.


This MOU will be valid for 24 months, July 1, 2018-June 30, 2020. 

The parties named above have caused this Memorandum of Understanding to be executed in multiple originals by their duly authorized representatives named below. This MOU will be reviewed quarterly. 

With Our Members

מזל טוב

  • Julie Schwartz on her appointment as Associate Dean of the HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus.
  • Allison Rose Kestenbaum on the birth of her daughter, Gilda Yalta born on 5/5/18.
  • Rabbi Robert Tabak and Ruth Loew on the birth of a granddaughter, Mira Sophie Tabak, born to Gabe and Ruth Tabak.
  • Meryl M. Crean on the birth of a grandson, Kai Seigno Sternman-Hwang, Hayyim ben Ariella Chaya v’Abednago.
  • Yocheved Lindenbaum on the births of grandaughter, Maayan R’vavah and grandson, Aharon
  • Yakov Landau on the birth of a daughter

כל הכבוד

  • Sandra Katz on receiving Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. 
  • Maurice Kaprow, NAJC Immediate Past President who received his EdD on May 3.
  • Sarah Blum on being honored by West Rock Chapter of Hadassah as a Woman of Valor.
  • Yehudah (Leonard) Blank on being honored by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) with the HealthCare Chaplain of the Year Award.
  • Jodi Futornick who has received her Doctorate in Bioethics from Loyola of Chicago.
  • Judith Beiner on receiving her Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
  • Mira Rivera on becoming a Jewish Emergent Network Fellow at Romemu in New York.

רפואה שלימה

  • Shmuel ben Gittel, Father of Stephanie Dickstein
  • Nechama Sara bat Devorah Shoshana – wife of Gabriel Kretzmer Seed
  • Aliza Yocheved bat Nechama Sara – daughter of Gabriel Kretzmer Seed
  • Marcia Miller
  • Noam Daniel Ben Gilah, son of Geoff Haber
  • Helen Freer
  • Lewis Weiss
  • Sandra Berliner הרב צירה ביילע בת יהודה הלוי ושיינה גיטל
  • Eli Sharon
  • Jan Courte 

המקום ינחם 

  • Sara O’Donnell Adler on the death of her father Jim O’Donnell.
  • Gila Katz on the death of her husband Julian Katz.
  • Anne Feibelman on the death of her mother Marguerite Levy Feibelman.
  • The family of Shimeon Schreiber.
  • Robert Tabak on the death of his nephew, Zach.
  • Zahara Davidowitz-Farkas on the death of her mother. 
  • Robert Tabak on the death of his mother Phyllis Tabak.
  • Len Lewy on the death of his mother Ilse Lewy.
  • Jodie Futornick on the death of her father David Furtornick.

ישר כוח

  • To our recently Board Certified Chaplains:
    Rabbi Rebecca Kamil
    Rabbi Eliana Falk

New חברים

Professional Member

  • Bette Birnbaum, NY
  • Rabbi Tziona Szjman, Ithaca, NY
  • Rabbi Gila Ruksin, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sophia Levin, Boston, MA
  • Rabbi Janet Madden, Ph.D, Santa Monica, CA

Associate Professional Member

  • Rabbi Mark Borovitz, Los Angeles, CA

Student Member

  • Linda Norton
  • Fruma Feller, Lakewood, NJ
  • Jordan Shaner, Greenwich, CT
  • Jay Sherwin, San Leandro, CA
  • Daniel Aronson, Houston, TX

General Member

  • John Croft, TX

2018-19 Officers, Board & Committees

Rabbi Dr. Sandra Katz, BCC
Rochester, NY
Rabbi David Fine
Modi’in, Israel
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, BCC
Highland Park, NJ
President Elect
Chaplain Margo Heda, BCC
Fair Lawn, NJ
Rabbi Rena Arshinoff, BCC
Toronto, Ont. Canada

Vice President
Rabbi Lev Herrnson, BCC
Rockville Center, NY
Rabbi Dr. Joe Ozarowski, BCC
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Lynn Liberman, BCC
St. Paul, MN
Rabbi Dr. Mark Goldfarb
La Mirada, CA
Secretary, Newsletter Editor
Chaplain Karen Lieberman, BCC
Mequon, WI
Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn
Los Angeles, CA
Conference Chair
Rabbi Neal Loevinger, BCC
Poughkeepsie, NY
Rabbi Dr. Geoff Haber, BCC
Pittsfield, MA

Certification Chair
Rabbi Rochelle Robins, BCC
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Moe Kaprow, BCC
Winter Springs, FL

Immediate Past President
Rabbi Jessica Shafrin
St. Louis, GA
Rabbi Dr. Rafael Goldstein, BCC
Miami, FL
Executive Director
Rabbi Ruth Smith, BCC
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz, BCC
Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Michelle Stern, BCC
Evanston, IL
Rabbi Fredda Cohen, BCC
White Plains, NY
Rabbi Jason Weiner, BCC
Los Angeles, CA