For the first time, a group of Israelis were officially certified as Spiritual Care Providers who counsel the dying or those battling chronic illness or other health crises with spiritual healing and support following training brought to Israel and funded by UJA-Federation of New York.
The certification ceremony took place November 5, at the 10th annual Spiritual Care Conference, entitled “The Individual, the Community and Spiritual Care: Building Resilience and Meaningful Connection,” at the Neve Ilan Hotel near Jerusalem.
The ceremony was an important milestone in professionalizing Spiritual Care in Israel.
Spiritual Care Provision, also known as spiritual support, is seen as a vital tool to support and give guidance to the gravely ill or those near death. It has been found that during a time of health crisis people are more spiritually open and reflective and seem to find deep comfort from the help of Spiritual Care providers. Spiritual Care is an established field in many countries. In the United States every hospital is legally required to offer access to a chaplain, or spiritual guide, as part of healthcare. However, in Israel, such care has not been officially recognized until now.
Thirty-three candidates applied for certification and 23 passed the Israel Spiritual Care Network of Organizations’ Criteria for Spiritual Care Providers. The training program included 800 hours of supervised didactic and clinical site-based hours. Candidates were approved by a special international certification and evaluation committee.
The Israel Spiritual Care Network of Organizations is comprised of more than 20 organizations that work across cultural, social, and religious differences to promote spiritual care work and to professionalize the field to suit the needs of Israeli society. The network is supported by UJA-Federation of New York. There has been a growing awareness that the medical and social service establishment in Israel lacks spiritual care and UJA-Federation has been working to fill that void.
Together with leading health and human-service agencies, UJA-Federation of New York launched the field of Jewish spiritual care in Israel in 2006, and since then has already allocated over 6 million dollars in funding to several training institutions as well as organizations that provide direct services in Israel’s major hospitals in Jerusalem, the Negev, Haifa, and Tel Aviv area, along with other community settings including ones that serve the elderly, terror victims, at-risk youth, and cancer patients. The support provides training for professionals, including rabbis affiliated with all streams of Judaism, and help for those who care for individuals and families facing illness, bereavement, trauma, addiction, loneliness, and other challenges.
“At the core of Jewish spiritual care is a recognition that Jewish values, tradition and liturgy, combined with standard bio-psycho-social interventions, provide a holistic framework for individuals to cope with life challenges. It is a uniquely Jewish response to the healing process,” said Alex Roth-Kahn, Managing Director of the Caring Commission, UJA-Federation of NY.