Covenant Foundation’s New Grantees Include JTS for Pastoral-Care Training Expansion

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is pleased to announce that The Covenant Foundation has chosen the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS—as well as several Jewish organizations led by JTS-trained personnel—among its Signature Grant recipients. Additional organizations with JTS-trained leaders will be recipients of Ignition Grants.

The Covenant Foundation, which supports innovative Jewish education initiatives nationwide, each year awards Ignition Grants of up to $20,000 for one year, and Signature Grants of up to $250,000 over five years.

With its three-year Signature Grant of $140,650, the Center for Pastoral Education will collaborate with volunteers and synagogue leaders to energize their communities through the powerful work of bikkur holim (visiting the sick). Rabbi Mychal Springer, who received her ordination from The Rabbinical School of JTS in 1992, is the Center’s director.

The Center initially developed an innovative self-study course, Creating Caring Communities Through Bikkur Holim, with a Covenant Foundation Ignition Grant. The Center’s chaplain, Allison Kestenbaum, a certified Association for Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor, will provide in-person training in the fundamentals of pastoral care at up to 32 synagogues and small, independent Jewish groups.

Kestenbaum will also hire, train, and supervise regional trainers and community organizers who can help establish and reinvigorate bikkur holim groups at these sites to transform the experience and sustainability of bikkur holim practices.

Many of The Covenant Foundation’s recently announced grants will go to organizations staffed in part by JTS graduates of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education (DS); The Rabbinical School (RS); Gershon Kekst Graduate School (GS); Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies (LC); and several of The Davidson School’s professional development field programs: Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI), Leadership Institute for Synagogue and Congregational Educators (Leadership Institute), Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI), and Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks (S&B).

JTS is pleased that the company of strong organizations represented by The Covenant Foundation’s grants this year are places where our alumni are excelling as leaders at many levels:

  • 14th Street Y, New York City: Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein (Leadership Institute), Executive Director; Liz Hirsch (JECELI ’13), Director of the 14th Street Y Preschool
  • Brandeis Marin, San Rafael, CA: Dr. Peg Sandel (S&B ’11, DSLTI ’14), Head of School
  • Graduate Center for Jewish Education at American Jewish University, Bel Air, CA: Dr. Rachel Lerner (LC ’03, DS ’15), Assistant Dean
  • Bert and Sandra Wasserman Center for Family Life and Programs for Infants + Young Children, JCC Manhattan, Mara Braunfeld (Leadership Institute), Director
  • Center for Jewish Living and the David H. Sonabend Center for Israel, JCC Manhattan, Rabbi Ayelet Cohen (RS ’02), Director
  • JCC Manhattan; Rabbi S. Hillel Hyman (RS ’74), Chief Financial Officer
  • JCC Manhattan, Mindy Schachtman (LC ’02), Chief Development Officer
  • Be’chol Lashon, San Francisco, CA: Rabbi Juan Pablo Mejía (RS ’09), Southwest Regional Director
  • BIMA and Genesis at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA: Rabbi Charlie Schwartz (RS ’11, DS ’11), Director of BIMA and Genesis and Senior Jewish Educator in the Office of High School Programs
  • Kulanu NNJ, Woodcliff Lake, NJ: Rabbi Shelley Kniaz (GS ’84, GS ’88, RS ’88 principal certificate), Co-Chair