CPE learning at HSL is informed by integrated study of relevant Jewish texts and ongoing reflection on the role of Jewish cultural and religious influences on the pastoral care relationship. This happens in an organic as well as programmatic way in a context where the majority of students in the group is Jewish, the patient population is predominantly Jewish, and the health care system is Jewish.

This CPE unit has a unique focus on Jewish elder care and the ethical and spiritual dimensions of aging. Special attention is given to palliative care, hospice, and Jewish understandings of end of life care.

Students teach and learn from traditional and modern Jewish sources and are supported in developing their own relationship to prayer and ritual in the pastoral care encounter. Jewish prayer and meditation are also explored in relation to the self-sustenance of the caregiver.

Additional Jewish themes relevant to this population that may be addressed in a given unit are:

  • Jewish aging in America
  • Understanding dementia and dementia care in a Jewish context
  • The Holocaust experience in health care
  • Jewish spiritual assessment
  • Bereavement and cumulative grief
  • Jewish theological meaning in the human experience
  • Jewish pastoral authority
  • Jewish liturgical and spontaneous prayer
  • Spirituality of aging
  • Jewish medical ethics
  • Jewish palliative care

Specifically Jewish content is taught by Jewish presenters.

Students write reports ("verbatims") of clinical encounters to learn more about clinical skills and to gain insight and improve their use of self as a pastoral caregiver. In these verbatims students are challenged to further their understanding of Jewish pastoral care, explore their identity as a pastoral caregiver, and integrate Jewish tradition appropriately and skillfully in pastoral care.

Students are also required to write reflection papers that articulate their experience of various religious themes. In a given unit these may include: God, illness and aging, death and bereavement, hope and redemption, gender and sexuality, vocation/commandedness, and newcomer disorientation.

Another essential aspect of CPE education is group work. Students explore interpersonal and group relational dynamics as contexts for more effective pastoral care. In a predominantly Jewish group, this provides an opportunity to explore Jewish cultural patterns of relating in groups as well as diversity in Jewish identity and practice.