Israeli hospitals and hospices do not have chaplains and palliative care does not involve rabbis. Within the Israel Defense Forces, only Orthodox rabbis serve.
The Blaustein Center plays a strategic, pivotal role in shaping the direction of the liberal rabbinate in Israel and is integrating pastoral counseling into professional caregiving in Israel.
Directed by Dr. Ruhama Weiss, the Blaustein Center offers:
- Sugiyot Chayim – Life Texts for Pastoral Care, a Talmudic Bibliotherapy Program
- Practical Rabbinics professional development and mentorship for students in HUC-JIR’s Israel Rabbinical Program
- Interfaith Programs (Jewish Israelis and Palestinians) that use spiritual tools to deal with the ongoing political conflict
- Assif Spiritual Retreats for Israeli and U.S. HUC Alumni rabbinical students and program graduates
The Blaustein Center, in cooperation with many researchers, developed a tool called the “Spiritual Questionnaire,” which is used in many of our programs and at other institutions. Graduates of Sugiyot Chayim establish new and renewed Batei Midrash in schools, neighborhood clubs (matnas), and synagogues. They facilitate Torah groups using methods that combine textual work and spiritual growth.
The Blaustein Center is a pastoral counseling laboratory-think tank that is developing a network of key stakeholders in Israeli caregiving, providing orientation for Israel’s secular physicians, clinical psychologists, and social workers, and creating partnerships with other progressive institutions. This work is driving a growing Israeli interest in the nexus between religion, spirituality, and healing.
In addition, the Blaustein Center has transformed HUC-JIR’s Israel Rabbinical Program, where the curriculum has been enhanced by professional development and spiritual growth tracks that already characterize the North American rabbinical program.
The impact of the Blaustein Center is felt throughout Israeli society, as HUC-JIR’s rabbinical students and alumni with finely honed pastoral and counseling skills lead congregational pulpits, develop “community rabbinates” serving diverse and unaffiliated populations, and assume leadership positions within communal organizations and educational institutions.