JTS Receives Major Grant from Revson Foundation to Create Center for Pastoral Education

New Address for Religious Wisdom in the Crisis of Illness

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

July 1, 2009, New York, NY

In the face of serious illness and the wrenching decisions provoked by advanced medical technology, people often turn to religious leaders for support and solace.

Often, however, the education of religious leaders does not offer a reflective, hands-on approach to working directly with those afflicted by profound suffering.

The new Center for Pastoral Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is a groundbreaking forum for multifaith collaboration, teaching the art of pastoral care—tending to people in acute physical or emotional crisis—to rabbis in training and in the field, as well as to seminarians and ordained clergy of all faiths. Grounded in the common purpose of ameliorating suffering, the center for pastoral education is designed to become the chief address for Jewish and multifaith pastoral training.

Initiated by the center’s director, Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, and launched by a $500,000 grant over four years from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the center will train Jews and non-Jews together in Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)–accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), the internationally recognized gold standard of pastoral education. Rabbi Springer is Helen Fried Kirshblum Goldstein Chair in Professional and Pastoral Skills at JTS.

“The center will bring clergy and clergy-in-formation into regular contact with people who are asking tough questions about their lives’ meaning,” said Rabbi Springer. “Students will receive in-depth supervision to help them to care for people, drawing on Judaism and other faith traditions as powerful resources for cultivating hope in moments of crisis.”

The center’s presence at JTS will ground CPE’s nondenominational approach in the highest level of Jewish scholarship. It also represents a new vision for rabbinic education and JTS’s role in the broader twenty-first century religious community. In addition, JTS will mount a major effort, through internal seminars and public forums, to bring Jewish teachings and values to bear on pressing contemporary dilemmas involving medicine, healthcare, and chaplaincy.

“Rabbis and laypeople around the country have identified expert pastoral care as an essential need in their communities. This is true in non-Jewish communities as well,” stated Professor Arnold Eisen, chancellor of JTS. “The center will have a transformative effect on the Jewish community and well beyond.”

Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, said, “The Revson Foundation is honored to help inaugurate this pioneering effort, particularly in such a difficult time. Under Rabbi Springer's inspired leadership, a new generation of rabbis and clergy will transform the compassionate care of those who are ill and most in need of powerful responses to perennial questions of meaning.”

The center has been accredited as an ACPE satellite of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It will draw on its historic partnerships with Auburn Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, as well as Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and UJA-Federation of New York.

Rabbi Springer has dedicated her rabbinate to pastoral care. A certified ACPE supervisor and a certified Jewish chaplain, she brings an acute awareness of the religious and spiritual components of CPE to the center. Prior to becoming an associate dean of The Rabbinical School of JTS seven years ago, she served as director of Pastoral Care and Education at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and associate director of the Jewish Institute for Pastoral Care at the HealthCare Chaplaincy in Manhattan. She has also been involved in pastoral education at B’Ruah at Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

To learn more about the center and for information regarding the application process, please contact Rabbi Springer at (212) 678-8815.