Posted on Dec 17, 2019
Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education, New York-Presbyterian Hospital
The Rabbinical School ’92
While a student at JTS, Rabbi Mychal B. Springer learned to become a chaplain from nuns, drawing on Christian texts.
“It just didn’t feel right,” she explains. “Judaism has a rich tradition of bikkur holim (visiting the sick) and many texts that speak about suffering and healing. But no one had integrated this material into clinical pastoral education.” Springer realized that JTS must fill this void, not just for its own students, but for Jewish clergy across the denominations
In 2009, she founded the school’s Center for Pastoral Education, one of the few accredited seminary-based programs and the gold standard in the field for combining psychological principles with traditional Jewish practices, in dialogue with other religions. Having trained 341 Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform rabbis and cantors, in addition to clergy and seminarians of other faiths, the center has transformed the spiritual care of communities across the United States and Israel. JTS now requires each of its rabbinical and cantorial students to complete 400 hours of training with the center, which provides them with in-depth supervision while they provide care in nursing homes, hospices, soup kitchens, congregations, and prisons. Students find the training essential. Says Rabbi Megan GoldMarche (KS ’14, RS ’14), “I feel much more equipped now to be a rabbi in situations of suffering, knowing I can be of comfort.”