Pictured (left to right): Arthur Roswell, Betty Roswell, Dr. Diane E. Meier, Rabbi Nancy Wiener, and Rabbi David Ellenson
The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling celebrated its tenth anniversary of programming on April 22 at the New York campus of HUC-JIR. The Blaustein Center is the first center dedicated to pastoral education at a North American Jewish seminary, and during the academic year 2001-2002, the Blaustein Center offered its first required pastoral care course, combining class work and a supervised counseling component, for rabbinical students.
Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Founding Director, has made real the Blaustein Center's commitment to providing future rabbis and cantors with an integrated class work, fieldwork, supervision, and mentoring program that includes required courses in pastoral care and counseling; supervised counseling placements in healthcare facilities, agencies, and congregations; and supervision and mentoring in congregational and organizational fieldwork placements. The program is designed to help students appreciate the connection between their text courses, professional development courses, and the real-life encounters they have by fostering and nurturing a reflective practice that highlights the interpersonal, pastoral, and theological aspects of being Reform clergy members in the 21st century.
During the celebration, Rabbi David Ellenson, President, presented the Refuat HaNefesh (healing of the soul) Award to The Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and Dr. Diane E. Meier, Founding Director, for their superlative work, their long-term partnership with the Blaustein Center since its infancy (creating its first year-long pastoral internship), and their continued commitment to our shared goals.
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, stated, "The Blaustein Center, under the extraordinary leadership of Rabbi Nancy Wiener, has transformed the way we teach pastoral care and counseling on the New York campus. Today, all our rabbinical and cantorial students receive the intensive training and supervision necessary so they may acquire and strengthen critical skills that will be required of them to work effectively serving congregations and in other Jewish communal settings. We are very grateful to Rabbi Wiener for her excellent work, and to the Roswells for their vision and for their great generosity."
Dr. Norman Cohen, former Provost of HUC-JIR, contextualized the event, speaking about the innovative pastoral education opportunities that the Blaustein Center has brought to HUC-JIR. He emphasized, “Fifteen to twenty years ago, let alone when I was a student at the College-Institute in the late 60’s-early 70’s, the only learning opportunity students had in the area of Pastoral Counseling was a one-semester required course. The entire learning experience was in-class and quite limited. Graduates were ill-prepared to meet the needs of their congregants. Today, due to the Blaustein Center and the work of Rabbi Nancy Wiener, our students not only take a number of required courses, but benefit from substantive in-field supervised training, including for many 400 hours of reflective Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital or care facility, and greater supervision in their student pulpit placements. Simply put, the training that our students now receive due to the Blaustein Center has immeasurably enhanced the rabbinates and cantorates of our graduates.”
Our alumni spoke of the ways in which the Center and the training it provided have enhanced their rabbinates. Colleagues on our other campuses, along with our friends at The Jewish Theological Seminary and Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College, offered their congratulations and spoke of the influence that the Blaustein Center has had on their evolving programs. Sarah Krevsky and Lauren Phillips, cantorial students in our Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, enhanced the program with musical offerings related to healing and wholeness.