The graduates of the inaugural cohort of eleven Mezorim (pastoral care givers) were presented with certificates at an Academic Convocation at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus on November 14, 2008. HUC-JIR’s groundbreaking Mezorim Program is creating the language and vocation for a new profession of chaplains to serve Israelis at times of illness, crisis, and joy. As these Mezorim serve in health care facilities, including hospitals, hospices, and rehabilitation centers, as well as in community educational settings, they are introducing the role of chaplain to Israeli society.
The Mezorim Program is offered by HUC-JIR’s Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling and is directed by Dr. Michael Muszkat-Barkan, Director of The Department of Education and Professional Development at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.
“We take pride in our pioneering Mezorim who are helping to redefine Jewish religious outreach, grounded in the values and mission of the Reform movement, among contemporary Israelis. This first cohort will certainly have an impact on the lives of many, through their capacity to comfort, counsel, and care,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President.
A brief survey of their placements as Mezorim offers an insight to their role as innovators and catalysts for pastoral care in Israel:
Gila Cohen works in the Beit Levenstin Rehabilitation Hosptial, the Beit Hashemesh Senior Home, and in the Special Needs Bar/Bat Mitzvah project of the Masorti movement;
Miriam Gues Taoub, a registered nurse, works in orthopedic rehabilitation at the Sheba Hospital in a position funded by UJA-Federation of New York;
Ariella Vogel works in the head injury rehabilitation department at Sheba Hospital in a position funded by UJAFederation of New York as well as with the Chaverut Project and Hadassah Hospital;
Debi Pinto-Cohen provides home care through the General Ill Fund and works with the support group at Congregation Kol Haneshama;
Iris Solomon offers solace and care through the Tishkofet Organization for cancer patients and their families, and provides staff support and volunteers enrichment at its Zichron Yaakov branch;
Rabbi Miri Gold is a chaplain in the oncology department at Kaplan Hospital and its home support for patients as well as for her Congregation Birkat Shalom;
Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon has worked in home hospice care and is now concentrating on the needs of her growing Congregation Yozma;
Rabbi Stacey Blank is serving her new congregation Darchai Noam in Ramat Hasharon;
Saralee Kasel, a registered nurse, offers pastoral care in the oncology department at Soroko Hospital in Beersheva;
Avigail Eitam, a psychologist, is still a full-time rabbinical student;
Gidi Sand is an educator, able to lead support groups in community settings through Beit Midrash study, in which Biblical texts, coupled with creative writing and group dynamic techniques, offer opportunities for spiritual and personal encounter.