What is your position at Wilf Campus?
Campus Chaplain / Rabbi
Describe a typical day in your position.
While no day is typical, there are several responsibilities and events which occur on an average day or during an average week. These include visiting people who are receiving care from Stein Hospice in the community, both in facilities and private homes, as well as in our on-campus facilities, overseeing the kitchen to ensure that Kosher standards are upheld, teaching two Torah classes on Mondays, and leading two discussion groups on Thursdays at Stein Assisted Living and Wilentz Senior Residence. I attend a variety of planning and other meetings, plan and coordinate with other staff members all Jewish holidays during the year, write articles which are published by local media outlets, and participate in outreach and educational programs throughout the area. A specific highlight of my years has been the opportunity I have had to address a local Hebrew School class about caring for our Jewish seniors as part of their Jewish life cycle classes. I also coordinate the weekly schedule for Shabbat Rabbinical coverage which includes myself, Rabbi Milton Kroopnick and Rabbi Moshe Edelman. Each rabbi brings a unique flavor to the Jewish atmosphere of Stein Assisted Living and by extension the entire Wilf Campus. Our residents enjoy the change in rabbis and what they each bring to weekly Shabbat services.
How did you get started in this profession?
I began studying to be a chaplain during my time at rabbinical school. I was considering a number of different options to pursue after my studies would be completed and chaplaincy was at the top of that list. I did my clinical pastoral education (CPE) at another major hospice in the area while also completing my studies at Yeshiva University’s rabbinic seminary. After completing CPE, I continued to work in the hospice field, and I found much fulfillment in this work and began my career at The Wilf Campus in 2010.
What do you like best about working within the Wilf Campus community?
The family atmosphere. There is a real sense of staff caring for one another all across the campus in all of our agencies. And this translates to the best possible care being given to all of our residents and patients. I also enjoy having the opportunity to interact with patients and residents who come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and faiths.
What’s your favorite part of Campus?
The diversity on the campus is my most favorite part. This diversity not only includes our Jewish residents of different denominations and backgrounds, but we also have the opportunity to share our culture and heritage with those from other faiths and cultures. Two specific experiences come to mind. I was most fortunate to be part of our “Fulfilling the Promise” Israel trip in November 2012 when we took our residents, including two Holocaust survivors, on a 10-day tour of Israel. Another unique experience beginning our Shabbat with Kiddush and HaMotzi (blessings over grape juice and bread) in the Wilentz dining room with residents of other faiths and cultures. Breaking bread is always the symbol of inclusiveness.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time reading, particularly books about Jewish topics and history. I have a little book-buying obsession. I also enjoy playing video games and spending time with my wife and two young children. I am a big sports fan, with my two favorite sports being baseball and football. I am a “suffering” New York Mets fan and, for football, my team is the Miami Dolphins.
What would you tell someone who is interested in a career at Wilf Campus; or someone who is seeking care for a loved one?
For someone who is interested in a career here, I would tell them that if they are looking for a place where people are really driven by their hearts to care for the seniors in our community, I believe this is the place for them. Everyone I work with is dedicated to the task at hand, bar none. I would say that to the families as well, that if they want their loved one to be in a place where people genuinely care for them and want what is best for them, then this is the place for them. Everyone here is interested in improving the lives of everyone we care for and giving as much joy and support as possible to those who face the limits of their later years. It shows in everything we all do.
What are your recommendations for preparing for the upcoming holidays?
I personally spend the time leading up to the High Holidays reflecting on the past year and reflecting on the good, bad and the ugly. I examine and read topics that are related to change and growth and try to find something I can work to improve on. I think that the idea of the New Year is that it can give us the opportunity to make a change that we want in our lives. I believe that the best way to make change last is to begin working on it long before the New Year, before Rosh Hashanah. You have to start the process ahead of time, which is why I read, journal and do a lot of reflection leading up to the High Holidays. In addition, I want to let people know that if you do not have a place to attend services for the holidays, you are most welcome at the Wilf Campus for all the holidays. Our service schedule is listed here. I would like to wish everyone a Shana Tova, a sweet and Happy New Year and a meaningful and spiritual holiday season.