Rabbinical Student/Los Angeles
ost people get anxious at the notion of dealing with death and dying. Not Keara Cummings,
a third-year rabbinical student from Scottsdale, AZ.
To be able to meet people in a pastoral setting, at the most intimate part of their lives and to make
a difference, that’s the most important part to me. It’s all about connection,”
Cummings, a Kalsman Institute pastoral intern at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, says that
her internship is teaching her that sometimes the most comforting words she can offer are none at all:
A lot of it is not talking, just sitting in silence and listening.”
After seeing each patient, Cummings reflects and searches for ties to Jewish texts at the request of her
mentor, Rabbi Pearl Barlev, L ’07. But she finds personal meaning too, whether it’s from a woman in the
intensive care unit who led Cummings to call her own mom to say how much she loved her or a man in
the psychiatric unit who forced her to justify the role of medicine in God’s universe.
The reflection process has taught me a great deal about myself – how I process difficult situations and
learn from them,” she says. “I know I will draw on these experiences in many ways in my rabbinate.”
Rabbinical student Keara Cummings on her way to visit a patient as a Kalsman Institute
pastoral intern at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.