Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles is pleased to announce The Hillside Rabbinic Practicum in Lifecycle Officiation and Pastoral Care, made possible by a gift from Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. The gift enables a new series of required courses that prepares rabbinical students to guide individuals and families through stage of life transitions from birth to death.
This integrated program will meet a real need in a students’ rabbinic training. The new curriculum recognizes that life cycle rituals – welcoming children into the Covenant, recognizing the assumption of Jewish responsibilities by Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, marriage ceremonies, and funerals – all take place against the backdrop of powerful emotions and family dynamics.
Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, Director of the School of Rabbinical Studies, believes the gift teaches future rabbis, that “every moment spent preparing for a rite of passage – birth, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage, death – is also an opportunity to help people make meaning of their lives and relationships. We are grateful to Hillside for recognizing the power and potential of the work rabbis do throughout people’s lives.”
The practicum will be conducted over four semesters, and be overseen by a team led by Rabbi Karen L. Fox, MFT, Adjunct Professor, Emerita, Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Through this collaboration, rabbinical students will acquire skills and greater comfort in dealing with issues of illness, visiting the sick, engaging in end-of-life discussions, and intensive practice in the rituals and emotions of death and mourning. Some of these practices include: interviewing the family; learning the traditions of hevra kadisha; conducting funerals, eulogies, shiva, grief counseling; and special needs and situations surrounding death.
Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary has been one of HUC-JIR’s crucial partners in training students in this area, and will continue to serve as a laboratory for exploring changing Jewish attitudes toward above-ground interment, green burial and cremation.
In addition, Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, has been providing scholarships for students at HUC-JIR for decades.