Spiritual Care Education

Training for current or aspiring health care chaplains of all faiths, from a Jewish perspective.

A man wearing a yarmulke sits with an older female Hebrew Rehabilitation Center patient in a wheelchair. They are both smiling and leaning in toward each other.

One-of-a-Kind Clinical Pastoral Education

Hebrew SeniorLife’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program in Boston, MA, provides geriatric-focused spiritual care training for seminary students of many faiths, future clergy seeking spiritual care skills, and aspiring or current health care chaplains. We are proud to offer the country’s only Jewish geriatric CPE program accredited by ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education.

Students leave the program trained to support seniors and families through the joys and challenges of aging, loss, and end of life. They also provide 5,000 hours of care to patients at HSL’s Hebrew Rehabilitation Center each year as part of their training. The program attracts students from across North America and as far as Israel. 

What is a Jewish CPE Program?

Hebrew SeniorLife’s CPE program approaches spiritual care through a Jewish lens. We welcome both Jewish and non-Jewish applicants. Learning is informed by the integrated study of relevant Jewish texts, ongoing reflection on the role of Jewish cultural and religious influences on the spiritual care relationship, and clinical experience gained with a predominantly Jewish population.

More About Our Jewish Identity

About the Curriculum

CPE students learn to develop their personal gifts for spiritual care through a disciplined program of learning, self-reflection, supervision, and clinical application.

The general CPE curriculum focuses on spiritual care as it relates to aging, illnesses of aging, bioethical decision-making, dying, and bereavement. Special attention is given to cultural and demographic diversity as they impact spiritual issues. Additional areas of focus, which may also be offered as specialty units, include:

  • Dementia
  • Trauma-informed care
  • End of life
  • LGBTQ older adults
  • Secular spirituality

Description of CPE Units

Objectives and Outcomes

Application Process

The program is open to experienced persons of all religious/spiritual traditions interested in Jewish CPE with a focus on older adults and issues of aging. International applicants will participate on a tourist visa.

Extended Unit 20-21: General Unit on Dedham Campus
October 6, 2020 – April 27, 2021 (Applications due March 15, 2020)

Summer 2021: General Unit on Roslindale (Boston) campus
June 1, 2020 - August 12, 2021 (Applications due November 15, 2020)

Summer 2021: General Unit on Dedham campus
June 1, 2021 - August 12, 2021 (Applications due November 15, 2020)

Extended Unit 2021-22: General Unit on Roslindale (Boston) campus
September 30 2021 - May 5, 2022 (Applications due March 15, 2021)

Extended Unit 2021-22: General Unit on Dedham Campus
October 5, 2021 - May 3, 2022 (Applications due March 15, 2021)

The application fee is $25.  Tuition is $1200, $250 of which serves as a nonrefundable deposit when accepting a position in the program and is credited toward the total tuition payment.

Please see the deadlines listed next to the unit for which you are applying. Applicants should read the Annual Notice, Admission Policy, and Financial Policy, and Use of Clinical Materials Consent form, and then fill out the standard ACPE application form.

If you are emailing your application (preferred), please print and scan the above application and email to cpe@hsl.harvard.edu. We will collect the $25 application fee at the time of the interview.

If you are mailing your application, please include a check for $25 made out to “Hebrew SeniorLife CPE Program,” or fill out the credit card payment form and send them to:

Rev. Mary Martha Thiel, Director of CPE
Department of Spiritual Care
Hebrew SeniorLife
1200 Centre St.
Boston MA 02131

When your application is received, we will set up an in person interview, or for applicants outside of the Boston area, by Zoom. The CPE educator of the program you are applying for as well as an additional member of the CPE program’s Professional Advisory Committee or member of the spiritual care department will share in the interviewing. You will be informed of the admissions decision within one month of the interview. The decision is at the sole discretion of Hebrew SeniorLife.

What People are saying about Hebrew SeniorLife

  • "The depth of intellectual and personal exploration that I experienced in three CPE units at Hebrew SeniorLife is without compare. The quality of the teachers on staff and those brought in – whether Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or strictly secular and academic – just couldn’t have been of a higher quality. And not only that, but the group supervision that continues to support me even today is so informed, experienced, and thoughtful that I really couldn’t imagine doing my work without it."

    Rabbi Joel Baron

    Interfaith Chaplain, Hebrew SeniorLife Palliative Care Service

  • "I had a wonderful experience as a CPE student and rabbinical intern and gained concrete knowledge that I currently utilize in my professional, personal, and rabbinical life. The program taught me how to work with and build relationships with patients, supervisors, and mentors, many of which I have carried with me now that I am practicing independently."

    Rabbi Gray Myrseth

    Youth Education Director, Kehilla Community Synagogue

  • "Chaplaincy training can be a time of rigorous self-exploration in preparation for understanding and working with others. Rev. Mary Martha Thiel has a remarkable breadth of knowledge in the practice of spiritual care and the supporting social sciences; she has an unparalleled deep sense of compassion and desire to understand the other (the very broad spectrum that that encompasses) and the most open heart that enables piercing honesty and self-reflection in her protected space as CPE educator. She offered me a place to take that deep dive, explore, expand my own constructed perspectives, deconstruct, and build again."

    Rabbi Suzanne Offit

    Interfaith Chaplain, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, 2013-2020