Israel Pastoral Care

The Nathanial and Shirley Pollack Memorial Foundation has provided funding and expertise to the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics in Modi’in, Israel to further develop and enhance its curriculum for teaching chaplaincy and pastoral care skills to community rabbis throughout Israel. The Foundation has also provided guidance on the most pertinent Jewish sources and teaching methods for the chaplaincy portion of the program. While based on the American model of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), Barkai’s program differs in the depth of study of Jewish texts and the focus on specialized counseling to help congregants through suffering caused by war and terrorism in addition to sickness, aging and death from natural causes.

The program at Barkai involves studying Jewish theological sources, Jewish medical ethics, guest lectures, small group dynamics, experiential learning, practical exercises and reviewing case studies to teach community rabbis throughout Israel spiritual care skills – how to counsel people when they’re suffering and provide effective, compassionate spiritual guidance to people who are in crisis, have a loved family member in the hospital or in a nursing home, or who are dealing with grief and mourning. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the rabbinic students, who are already spiritual leaders of communities in Israel. Their training in pastoral care benefits thousands of people throughout Israel.

There are also plans to develop a comprehensive training manual based on the most useful chaplaincy materials utilized in the Barkai curriculum. It will hopefully become required reading along the road to professional recognition in the pastoral care field in Israel, and possibly the United States as well.