Spiritual Care and Guidance
We provide spiritual care and guidance for individuals, couples and families requiring support for whatever reason, and in a variety of settings. For the seriously ill and their families, we visit them in their own homes, in hospitals and nursing homes, etc. Care in this situation may often involve the bringing together of disparate family voices when faced with the illness of their loved one to help foster a sense of wholeness, so crucial in the healing process. We can also provide music at the bedside, or canine visits, which often brings comfort.
In addition to those seriously ill, we work with individuals, couples and families in need of counseling for any and all life crises: marital/relationship issues, addiction, bereavement, financial/job issues, etc. Spiritual care is as unique as the person seeking it. We tailor a plan of care to the specific needs of the individuals, which may include any of the following: dialogue, text study, prayer and/or meditation and writing. We also provide spiritual direction - a long-term exploration and appreciation of the Divine presence in one’s life. All of the above sessions can be conducted long-distance as well, via telephone or video conferencing.
JHCLA conducts monthly Refa'einu Healing Services usually on the last Monday evening of the month. Click here to see the flier for the current service. These services, led by or under the direct supervision of ordained rabbis, allow any one seeking quiet, as well as those in crisis, to approach their challenges from a religious-spiritual perspective in a contemplative setting. Each service in this series is followed by an informational dialogue about a particular illness or spiritual challenge. Click here to see a list of speakers we've had in the past. Participation is free of charge. Currently, these services are being held at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles.
In addition to the spiritual care discussed above, JHCLA personnel provide to those in crisis and their families other kinds of support services, including referral to appropriate social service agencies and interfacing with their health-care professionals in care and medical decisions, including providing complementary medicine resources. JHCLA's executive director has many years of experience in dealing with the medical and social service communities, and our health-care advisory board, composed of licensed health-care professionals in the community, is readily available for consultation.
Through our relationships with area hospices, we are able to act as a portal to full service hospice care for our clients at the appropriate time, while continuing to tend to their spiritual needs without any disruption in care. One call to us handles all the arrangements for you.
The full trajectory of spiritual care begins from the moment of diagnosis, and may move through hospice care. JHCLA partners with a variety of hospice organizations in the Los Angeles area to provide the chaplaincy component for any of their Jewish clients. Such care consists of meeting with the clients and their families as needed, advising them of issues in Jewish law and custom regarding illness, end-of-life, and mourning practices, and in general providing the spiritual care and support needed. We are there in a time of crisis to provide meaning and to bring together the sometimes disparate factions among family and friends, all of whom desire the best for their loved one.
Funerals and Bereavement Services
As an outgrowth of providing spiritual care to those facing death, the rabbis of JHCLA educate families about the Jewish traditional ways of death and mourning. We are available to assist with funeral arrangements and can, when needed, officiate at funerals. We also provide bereavement services for the survivors, in both group and individual settings.
Training for Physicians and Medical Students
JHCLA provides rabbis and chaplains to work with physicians and medical students in learning how to provide whole-patient care. Our programs increase understanding about the nature of dealing with illness from the patient's perspective, create recognition of the special skills of chaplains, and enhance sensitivity to Judaism's unique beliefs and practices about illness, death and dying. In addition to addressing physician seminars and conferences, we maintain a continuing relationship with UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine and the Simms/Mann - UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.
Training for Jewish Clergy in Chaplaincy
JHCLA provides training for rabbis, rabbinical students, cantorial students and chaplaincy students from all three of the Los Angeles rabbinical seminaries in chaplaincy and hospice work. Rabbi Howard has taught at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism), and is currently on faculty of the Academy for Jewish Religion, teaching courses in chaplaincy. JHCLA, through Rabbi Howard, is a partner in Hebrew Union College's Kalsman Institute. In addition, we provide internship opportunities for students from all three seminaries.
Volunteer Opportunities for the Community
JHCLA offers members of the community an opportunity to do volunteer work such as visiting the sick (after appropriate training) and helping the center administratively. Once we are situated in our own physical center, a host of additional volunteer opportunities connected with the center, will be available. By showing how to care for a place of sacred gathering, we teach through example the elevation of physical work into spiritual practice. By raising the consciousness of the community to the importance of spiritual healing we are fostering an example of creating conscious community.