Faith Tradition

Jewish Chaplaincy

Jewish chaplaincy is uniquely able to meet people in their suffering. The suffering that many people experience – whether due to physical illness, aging, mental health issues, incarceration, alienation or the traumas encountered in the military – can be shifted, or even lightened, when shared with a trained Jewish chaplain who is immersed in the wisdom of the Jewish tradition and pastoral approaches to helping.

The Psalmist cries out: “Do not abandon me when my strength fails.” (Ps 71:9) Jewish chaplains know how to accompany people who are brought low.

Gathered here are resources for people considering work as Jewish chaplains, as well as resources Jewish chaplains have found to be of help and support. This work is made possible by the Mapping Jewish Chaplaincy Project funded by the Charles H. Revson Foundation. We strongly recommend that those interested in Jewish chaplaincy read our working paper “Mapping Jewish Chaplaincy,” available in full here.

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Training for Jewish Chaplains

People come to Jewish chaplaincy along multiple paths. They may study pastoral counseling, Jewish studies, or other fields; they may become rabbis or cantors.

They may complete a seminary education or other types of programs. Jewish chaplains often, though not always, enroll in clinical pastoral education (CPE) as part of their training.

Clinical training

Almost all clinical pastoral education is done in a multi-faith setting with an educator who is not Jewish but trained in interfaith chaplaincy, preparing chaplains to work with people of all backgrounds. There are some programs led by Jewish educators in multi-faith settings with some options for Jewish clinical experience, and a few programs which are oriented to teaching Jewish chaplaincy, with more Jewish clinical placement options. For more information, see the Lab’s eBook The Art of Spiritual Care, our beginner’s guide to CPE.

Credentials for Jewish spiritual care providers

In general, Jewish chaplains have rabbinical or cantorial degrees, plus some professional pastoral preparation (e.g., CPE). Expectations for CPE completion and board certification vary by sector and employer. In some sectors, a person can be CPE trained and work as a chaplain without a rabbinical / cantorial degree.

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Certification and Endorsement

The specific certifications and endorsements required for Jewish chaplaincy (and all chaplains) depend on the settings in which they will work. See the Beginners Guide to Spiritual Care for an overview.

Board certification which requires a BA, a graduate degree in religious studies,  4 units of CPE, and additional clinical experience  is often required for work in hospitals. In hospitals as well as in prisons, people also need to be endorsed.

Endorsement can come from a person’s rabbinical or cantorial association or other organizations, such as the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council, The Aleph Institute, and Pirchei Shoshanim.

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Employers of Jewish Chaplains

Jewish chaplains work in a range of settings. Some are longstanding, such as health care and hospice, military, prison, senior living communities, higher education and general community chaplaincy.

Other areas are emerging and also might come under this umbrella, such as Jewish social movement chaplaincy, the Base Movement’s work with young Jewish post-college adults, and Jewish addiction treatment centers (such as Beit T’Shuvah).


Community chaplains often provide spiritual care and religious ritual support to individual Jews in their homes which might be located in housing communities, elder care settings, or health care institutions within a given geographical area.


The federal prison system requires the availability of chaplains to inmates; this is also the case in some, but not all, state prisons. Prison chaplains create holiday and Sabbath services, offer text study, and provide one-on-one support. Depending on the setting, a full-time Jewish chaplain might serve the full range of the incarcerated, including those who are temporarily held in prison and people with life sentences.


Healthcare chaplains serve people of all ages, health statuses and at many stages of prognosis and  treatment. They work with patients and also with families, especially in pediatrics, palliative care and geriatric care. In the hospital setting, chaplains also provide pastoral support to the staff; always an important function for chaplains in hospitals, staff’s work related emotional and spiritual stress became even more acute during the pandemic. Relatedly, health care chaplains also work in community based palliative care and hospice. With the multiple roles they play, Jewish chaplains working with patients at end of life may also be asked to help people follow Jewish practices as they plan for postmortem care, particularly if they do not have other rabbinical resources to draw on.

Higher Education

Higher education has a long history of chaplaincy, and the Jewish community  has a strong footprint in colleges and universities, particularly through Hillel, although these two forms- chaplain and Hillel rabbi are not identical.  Hillel rabbis are typically employed by Hillel to serve Jewish students on campus. Universities often hire chaplains to serve the entire campus, and some hire rabbis in that capacity.


The military offers a variety of possible experiences for Jewish chaplains, whose roles are clearly understood and defined by the Department of Defense Instruction as “Chaplain.” Chaplains work on Active Duty and in Reserve forces in all military branches in operational settings, but might find their work expanding into military health care facilities and training settings. Like other military personnel, a chaplain on Active Duty generally changes assignments and locations every two or three years.

Senior Care

Jewish chaplains work in Jewish nursing homes and other congregate living settings such as chronic care hospitals, assisted living, supportive senior housing, and continuum of care retirement communities with substantial Jewish populations. They offer direct service to patients and their families, Jewish programming for the entire facility, and they sometimes do mission-related work for the organization.

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Profiles of Jewish Chaplains

Profiles of chaplains from many backgrounds are at THIS is What a Chaplain Looks Like. Chaplains who are Jewish or from Jewish backgrounds are included below:

Eliot Baskin

Rabbi Eliot Baskin

Rabbi Eliot J. Baskin, DMin, DD serves as part of the Shalom Park elder community and nursing home Spiritual Care team. Previously he served for two decades as Denver’s Jewish Community Chaplain and the Rabbinic Director of Rafael Spiritual Healing Services as part of Jewish Family Service of Colorado where he visited Jews in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, correctional facilities, and mental health institutions. He served as past President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinic Council. In his free time he enjoys volunteering for the Denver Police Chaplains’ Unit and the United States Secret Service, leading Jewish holiday services for Cruise Lines, and lecturing throughout the world on topics of contemporary Jewish spirituality.

Larry Bazer

Chaplain (Colonel) Larry Bazer is Deputy Director, National Guard Bureau-Office of the Joint Chaplain. Prior to serving on active duty, he was the Joint Forces State Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard and the rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham, MA.

Joanna Katz

Rabbi Joanna Katz

Rabbi Joanna Katz attended the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and was ordained in 1988. She has worked as a chaplain in college, hospital, psychiatric and prison settings. From 2000-2019 Joanna worked for the Department of Corrections of New York State, serving incarcerated women in the state system. She was the co-founder and director of the Prison and Reentry Clinical Pastoral Education Program at the Jewish Theological Center from 2016-2020. In October 2020 Joanna became a Certified Educator through ACPE.

In 1992 Joanna co-founded Elat Chayyim, the Jewish Spiritual Retreat Center, with her partner Rabbi Jeffrey Roth. She is a student of Eastern and Western contemplative practices and teaches meditation regularly. She lives in the Hudson River Valley of New York.

Allison Kestenbaum

Chaplain Allison Kestenbaum

Allison Kestenbaum, MA, MPA, BCC, ACPECE is the Supervisor of Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education at UC San Diego Health. Allison conducts research about spiritual and palliative care/education. She is a Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns Scholar. Allison served as an ACPE Educator at Jewish Theological Seminary and UC San Francisco Health. She worked in planning and allocations at UJA-Federation of New York. She has served on the Board of Directors and Certification Commission of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. She earned her MA in Judaic Studies and MPA in Non-profit Management from New York University. Allison is board certified (APC and NAJC).

Abraham Schacter-Gampel

Rabbi “Abe” Schacter-Gampel

Rabbi Abraham “Abe” Schacter-Gampel serves as the Director of Spiritual Care at Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab. A native of New York, Abe completed his first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a year long CPE residency at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee. Abe studied at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and was ordained in June 2017. He is a Board Certified Chaplain through Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. He is married to Rabbi Sarit Horwitz and they are the proud parents of their son, Lavi Hersh.

Elena Stein

Rabbi Elena Stein, featured in THIS Is What a Chaplain Looks Like

Rabbi Elena Stein is Board Certified through NAJC. She has served the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati for 19 years. The Jewish Hospital is currently part of Bon Secours Mercy Catholic Health System. Rabbi Stein is a staff chaplain, serving patients, families, and staff of all faiths. She also helps to maintain and educate people within the system of the hospital’s Jewish Traditions.

Yonatan Warren

Chaplain Yonatan Warren

Yonatan Warren (LCDR, CHC, USN) is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and the Graduate School at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Ordained from the Rabbinical School at JTS in 2011, Rabbi Warren reported for Active Duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy that September. In the years since, Rabbi Warren served with Marine Corps units in the Pacific, at sea aboard the USS OAK HILL, and as staff at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. In his current setting, Rabbi Warren is a clinical chaplain at Navy Medicine Readiness & Training Command, Portsmouth, VA.

Seth Winberg

Rabbi Seth Winberg

Rabbi Seth Winberg is Executive Director of Hillel, Director of Spiritual Life, and Senior Chaplain at Brandeis University. Previously he served at Michigan Hillel and the Chicago Hillels. Under his leadership, the Chicago Hillels opened the first Base Hillel outside of New York and received Hillel International’s Phillip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Outstanding Campus Award. He also served on the Chicago Board of Rabbis’ executive committee and on Jewish Women International’s rabbinic task force, and has been recognized for his Israel advocacy. His writing has appeared in JTA, The Boston Globe, The Jerusalem Post, The Chicago Sun-Times and Hakirah.

Chloe Zelkha

Chloe Zelkha

Chloe Zelkha is an organizer and chaplain, and the co-founder of the COVID Grief Network, an innovative mutual aid organization offering free grief support to young adults who’ve lost someone to COVID-19.

After training as a community organizer through the JOIN for Justice Fellowship in Boston, Chloe served as a spiritual leader and fellowship director at Urban Adamah, a Jewish urban farm in Berkeley. After her dad died suddenly in 2017, she felt called to grief work and trained as a chaplain at UCSF Hospital, where she served in the NICU and Oncology units, and earned 3 units of CPE.

She is interested in marrying the wisdom of chaplaincy with the best of experience design to build transformative, immersive group experiences that help people connect with what matters most.

Chloe has a B.A. in Religion from Carleton College and an Ed.M. in Specialized Studies from Harvard University, where she focused on transformative learning. She is studying towards rabbinic ordination at Hebrew Union College.

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Key Texts on Jewish Chaplaincy

A detailed bibliography about chaplaincy is available here and a guide for locating additional resources is here. Key texts for learning about Jewish chaplaincy include:

Materials Recommended by Jewish Chaplains

We asked Jewish chaplains in interviews in 2021 what resources were most helpful to them in doing their work and/or in self care:

Additional resources

Academy for Jewish Religion

Academy For Jewish Religion 

Add Health longitudinal study

Air Force Chaplain Corps 

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief – Pauline Boss

Are You At Peace?” by Karen Steinhauser, Corrine Voils, and Elizabeth Clipp

Army Chaplain Corps 

The Association for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life in Higher Education (ACSLHE) 

Association of Jewish Aging Services 

Association of Professional Chaplains 

Association of Professional Chaplains 

Bay Area Jewish Healing Center 

Beit T’Shuvah 

Board of Rabbis 

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 

Center for Courage & Renewal 

Central Conference of American Rabbis 

Chapter in Jewish End-of-Life Care in a Virtual Age: Our Traditions Reimagined, “Virtual Spiritual Care for Elders: Living and Dying in Trying Times,” by Dayle Freedman

College & University Chaplaincy in the 21st Century by Lucy Forster-Smith

Continuing Rabbinic Education 

Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Internship Program 

Council on Foreign Relations 

Course taught by Paul Bloom “The moralities of everyday life”.


Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity in the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Ear Hustle podcast

Einstein and The Rabbi: Searching for the Soul by Naomi Levy

Exodus Transitional Communities 

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter

Extremis documentary Netflix


Harvard Divinity School Chaplaincy

Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew Union College 

Hillel’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Experience

Ideals Survey led by Matt Mayhew

Institute for Jewish Spirituality

Jewish End-of-Life Care in a Virtual Age: Our Traditions Reimagined by Dayle Freedman

Jewish Family Services in St. Louis

Jewish Sacred Aging

Jewish Theological Seminary

Jewish War Veterans of the USA

Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling 

Kosher Troops

Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life by Angeles Arrien

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Menorah Manor

Moffitt Cancer Center

National VOAD

Navy Chaplain Corps

Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains

New York Board of Rabbis 

Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership website

Paging God by Wendy Cadge

Pastoral Caregiver’s Casebook by John Jack Gleason

Rabbinical Assembly

Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History by Joseph Telushkin

Sacred Jewish Conversations

Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More connected Life by Bill Thomas

Seekers of Meaning by Richard Address

SEFER HA-HAYIM. THE BOOK OF LIFE: A Complete Formula of the service and Ceremonies Observed at the Death-bed, House of mourning and cemetary; Together with Prayers on Visiting the Graves by Rev. Dr. H. Vidaver

Spiritual assessment tool from The American Book of Living and Dying: Lessons in Healing Spiritual Pain by Richard Groves and Henriette Klauser

Spiritual Care Department at Cedars-Sinai

Suncoast Hospice

The Age of Atrocity: Death in Modern Literature by Lawerence Langer

The Aleph Institute

the Association of College and University Religious Affairs 

The Conversation Project

The Emory Hillel 

The Good Place TV show

The Gottman Institute

The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination by Lawerence Langer

The Jewish Publication Society 

The Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council

The National Association of Catholic Chaplains

the National Association of College and University Chaplains

The Rabbinical Council of America

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

The Reflective Practitioner by Donald Schön

The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education by John Schmalzbauer

There If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

This Is Real and You’re Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew

To Dwell in Your House: Vignettes and Spiritual Reflections on Caregiving at Home by Susan Freeman

To Grow in Wisdom: An Anthology of Abraham Joshua Heschel by Joshua Heschel

Torah in Motion: Creating Dance Midrash by Susan Freeman

Union Theological Seminary


Women’s Rabbinic Network

Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim

Ziegler Rabbinical School