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Examine of 1,000 Jewish chaplains finds a significant useful resource is neglected

Report from Brandeis College’s Chaplaincy Innovation Lab
requires extra distinguished function for chaplains

WALTHAM, Mass. — Probably the most complete research of Jewish chaplains so far has discovered that almost 1,000 Jewish chaplains are offering important religious and emotional companies to Individuals of all faiths. But the report finds they’re underrecognized and excluded from management positions and decision-making in main Jewish organizations. 

Mapping Jewish Chaplaincy” by the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at Brandeis College documented the wide-ranging important care that Jewish chaplains present of their roles in healthcare, hospice, elder care, the navy, on campus, in jail and as Jewish group chaplains in communities throughout the U.S. The report discovered that regardless of the important work that Jewish chaplains present, their contributions are largely underappreciated and unrecognized by the Jewish organizational world. The report requires a higher and extra distinguished function for Jewish chaplains in Jewish communal management.

Along with offering a have a look at the significance of Jewish chaplains’ present work,  the report traces the historical past of Jewish chaplaincy in America beginning within the mid-Nineteenth century. 

Among the many report’s main findings:

  • There are roughly 1,000 Jewish chaplains in America, working in healthcare, prisons, increased training, eldercare, and different organizations. They serve people outdoors the mainstream, such because the sick, incarcerated, and people scuffling with substance abuse. 
  • Regardless of the wide range of locations Jewish chaplains are serving, their work is basically invisible to leaders of Jewish organizations and group settings.
  • Establishments educating Jewish leaders, like rabbinical faculties and seminaries, are taking a higher curiosity in coaching chaplains.
  • Jewish chaplains largely work solely inside their very own settings, like healthcare or corrections, however wish to join with colleagues throughout sectors to advance the sphere.

Among the many report’s main suggestions:

  • Jewish chaplains ought to be higher built-in into management buildings of Jewish establishments and communal organizations.
  • Investments ought to be made in chaplaincy analysis and growth to convey chaplaincy companies into underserved areas and higher perceive the demand for chaplaincy.
  • Group service organizations ought to dedicate higher consideration to chaplaincy, as chaplains are strongly poised to serve these concerned with social service businesses and group federations.

“Our analysis discovered Jewish chaplains to be a communal useful resource hiding in plain sight.  Chaplains are educated to satisfy folks the place and as they’re. Their work is to accompany folks in periods of non-public transition and instances of social change, like these we discover ourselves in now,” mentioned Chaplaincy Innovation Lab founder Wendy Cadge, Barbara Mandel Professor of Humanistic Social Sciences and professor of sociology at Brandeis College.

At a time of declining institutional affiliation, chaplains stands out as the solely spiritual professionals that many American Jews, particularly these below 30, see in instances of want. As well as, the Jewish group has the next share of individuals over 65 than the overall inhabitants, and households that do affiliate are more and more multi-faith; Jewish chaplains are poised to help them. Rabbinical faculties and seminaries of all denominations are recognizing the significance of chaplaincy and religious care.

Jewish chaplains are desirous to innovate and convey their abilities to new areas, like Jewish summer season camps or social justice actions, and to teams at present underserved by religious care suppliers, like folks with dementia and their households. Group chaplaincy itself is a mannequin that originated within the Jewish group and entails chaplains funded by the native Jewish federation, usually primarily based in a social service company, to take care of folks in any other case out of the group’s attain. That is an space with the potential for nice influence and progress.

“Jewish chaplains are a singular useful resource. This report helps us ​​to suppose creatively about how chaplains can extra totally serve the large wants locally,” mentioned Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, who contributed to the report.

This two-year project, made doable by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, introduced Jewish chaplains collectively from throughout sectors and denominations for the primary time. Drawing from historic information, interviews, surveys, and the steering of main chaplains, the undertaking describes who Jewish chaplains are, the place they work and prepare, and their relationship to the organized Jewish group. There’s a clear curiosity in persevering with to make use of this new community nationally and regionally for skilled help and growth, together with studying communities, mentorship, and talent constructing. There are additionally alternatives to strengthen present networks like Neshama: Affiliation of Jewish Chaplains, to incorporate chaplains in additional high-level communal conversations, and in management growth fellowships.   

“This report has the potential to extend group consciousness concerning the highly effective function chaplains are enjoying at present within the lives of Jewish Individuals and to assist advance the multi-sector area of Jewish chaplaincy in vital methods that may help and additional enrich Jewish communal life general,” defined Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, who additionally contributed to the report, which is on the market here.


Based in 2018, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab helps chaplains in all sectors as they acknowledge and reply to adjustments in American spiritual and religious life. The Lab brings chaplaincy leaders, theological educators, scientific educators, and social scientists right into a research-based dialog concerning the state of chaplaincy and religious care. Driving its work are questions on how religious caregivers can do their greatest work. The Lab goals to enhance how chaplains are educated, how they work with numerous people (together with these with no spiritual or religious backgrounds), and the way religious care develops as an expert area.

The Charles H. Revson Basis, established in 1956, operates grant applications in City Affairs, Jewish Life, Biomedical Analysis, and Training. Be taught extra at

For extra data, contact the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at [email protected] or (781) 736-4399


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this article are these of the authors and don’t essentially mirror the official coverage or place of Faith Information Service or Faith Information Basis.

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