MK Ruth Calderon. 'The importance of spiritual care is recognized in moments of sorrow'
Photo: Yaron Brener
Hundreds of people seeking to advance and professionalize spiritual care in Israel’s public health system are expected to participate next week at an international spiritual care conference in Jerusalem.
Spiritual care is a well-established field in the United States that helps offer meaning and purpose to people at all stages of life, especially those who are facing major challenges.
Studies show that during a crisis, people are more spiritually open and reflective, and seem to be deeply comforted with the help of spiritual care providers. Today, every US hospital is legally required to offer patients access to a chaplain or spiritual guide.
The Jerusalem conference, "Hope and Resilience: Innovative and Interdisciplinary Spiritual Care," is sponsored by NAJC (National Association of Jewish Chaplains) in partnership and collaboration with UJA-Federation of New York, Tishkofet, JDC-Eshel and the Israel Spiritual Care Network. It will be held on January 27-28 at Hotel Yehuda.
The keynote speaker will be Rev. Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network Inc., a leading spiritual care organization in the US, who is scheduled to discuss some of the latest research on spiritual care and healthcare.
Leading Israeli experts, including Knesset Member Dr. Ruth Calderon of the Yesh Atid party, will also speak at the conference.
With a growing awareness of the lack of spiritual care in the medical and social services establishments in Israel, UJA-Federation of New York and its partners are passionate about importing the field of spiritual care and advancing it as a recognized profession, the organization said in a statement.
Since 2006, when UJA-Federation launched the field in Israel, it has allocated over $6 million in funding to several training institutions as well as organizations that provide direct services in Israel’s major hospitals.
Today, the profession of spiritual care is growing, with close to 40 certified professionals across the Jewish state. Israel’s model of professional training is based on the American model, though without a theological component.
"Be it through music, text, art or religion, spiritual care is compassionate care, a universal need, based on the desires, beliefs and passions of the individual. Spiritual care in Israel has the potential and ability to help people find their purpose and sense of meaning in the most trying of times. Therefore, UJA-Federation of New York continues to support the mission of advancing the field of spiritual care in the State of Israel," said Susan Lax, co-chair of the Spiritual Care Advisory Committee at UJA-Federation of New York.
The Israel Spiritual Care Network of Organizations (ISCN), supported by UJA-Federation, is comprised of over 20 organizations that work across cultural, social, and religious borders to bring professional standards and accreditation to the field, conduct research on the emerging practice and its efficacy in Israel, and deepen strong ties with leading healthcare professionals.
"Sickness, hardship and death are moments of life we try to repress and avoid as much as possible. Therefore, we are missing a language that can give meaning to these moments. The importance of spiritual care is recognized in moments of sorrow, in presence next to a patient and in using a deep and accurate language that contains understanding, meaning and acceptance," said MK Calderon.
Through NAJC, Israel will be able to forge relationships with HealthCare Chaplaincy, as well as with other recognized spiritual care professional organizations. The training for qualified spiritual care providers has been adapted to be indigenous to the country, society, and culture of Israel and all training programs will soon be reviewed by an external board for accreditation.