The rabbi, spiritual care, and Beth Sholom Village

November 29, 2021

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Beth Sholom Village is not a synagogue, but a skilled nursing and assisted living facility. At the same time, BSV is a Kosher facility and celebrates Jewish holidays and traditions, underscoring how it operates. Aside from Shabbat services, a Christian service and Communion for Catholic residents are also offered.

A medical healthcare facility is different from a congregation. One might ask why is a rabbi needed at BSV? With a population comprised of Jewish and non-Jewish residents, all religions and denominations are welcome. However, all that takes place at BSV, from care to celebrations, is foundationally Jewish.

Spirituality is about our connection to our inner awareness that is not dependant on a particular religion, but represents the universal make-up of all people, reflected in a Kabbalist prayer that says, “Blessed are all of God’s self-portraits.” In Hebrew, that is called mu’da’oot ru’cha’nit, or spiritual awareness, which all people possess, Jewish or not. That does not mean that a person’s faith tradition, such as Judaism or Christianity, is not essential. It also recognizes that a person’s inner needs and religious beliefs often function like a hand (spiritual) and a glove (religion). Therefore, it is important to be equally concerned with an individual’s spiritual and emotional needs.

When sitting with a resident coming to terms with their human limitations or even mortality, discussing halakha (Jewish law) or doctrine may be a part of the conversation—but it is just that—a part of the conversation. In a setting like BSV, it is about helping residents find their inner power. (it could be religion, but it can also be the love of family).

Residents are encouraged to seek the ability to stand upon the shaky ground and turbulent waters when their health, and therefore humanity, has taken a turn. The journeys will impact both a resident and family differently. This is also so with residents who come to live at the Terrace Assisted Living. They need to adjust to a new living environment, get used to new people and surroundings, different types of food, or loss of independence. That coupled with fewer visits and contact from family and friends is like a loss that can also require support for both resident and family.

Although a rabbi, I also function as an Ecumenical Chaplain, meaning that no matter what a person’s religion (or lack of) may be, I aspire to support each unique set of spiritual, physical, and emotional needs, assisting in strengthening any values and beliefs that are operating as healthcare needs and challenges are faced. This is accomplished by collaborating with our medical team, our recreational therapy department, social workers, or our dietary team. As part of the team, the Religious and Spiritual Department aspires to ensure that Beth Sholom Village operates based on our Jewish values.

As the rabbi, I am also an advocate for the universal Torah-based principles, which are cultural, spiritual, religious, and emotional; values for all people that underscore the voices of our residents and their families.

We are privileged to care for those who have come to BSV.

Rabbi Adam Ruditsky may be reached at 757-420-2512 ex. 208.

-Rabbi Adam Ruditsky
Letter to the Editor