The Marpeh Spiritual Care Training Program
Accredited by the Association of Spiritual Care in Israel 2015

The Establishment of the Marpeh Spiritual Care Training Program

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies is an academic institution in Jerusalem granting M.A. degrees, recognized by the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Three non-profit organizations work alongside it, including a Masorti/Conservative rabbinical seminary as well as organizations promoting pluralistic Jewish education in Israel and Ukraine. The purpose of the Institute is to spread pluralistic Jewish learning in an academic framework in Israel

The Marpeh Program began in 2006 at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary as part of the pastoral skills training in cooperation with the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC). In 2012 it became an M.A. track in the graduate school of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. It is unique in its effort to certify spiritual caregivers in Israel adapting elements of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Practicum sites throughout Israel range from hospitals to youth group homes, battered women’s shelters and old age homes. Marpeh is also a distinctive in that it is interwoven into a pluralistic M.A. degree in Jewish Studies. Students who are interested can receive 40% credit towards a degree in Jewish Studies. Marpeh was first advised by the late Dr. John DeVelder (ACPE supervisor- Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center), Rabbi Zahara Davidowitz–Farkas (CPSP supervisor) and Rabbi Susan Freeman (ACPE Pacific region). Its supervisory track is currently advised by Rev. Dr. Amy Greene, an ACPE supervisor at the Cleveland Clinic. The program was accredited by the Association for Spiritual Care in Israel (ASCI) in 2015. The language of instruction is Hebrew.

The Academic Council of the Schechter Institute approved the integration of the academic program for training spiritual caregivers into the “Family and Community Studies” track at the Schechter Institute in the interest of spreading the vocation of spiritual care beyond rabbis to the general population of Israel.

Timeline of Program Development

2006: The first study 200 unit of chaplaincy training was opened under the supervision of Rabbi Zahara Davidowitz-Farkas who served as supervisor between 2006- 2013. Hila Zemer, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, served as the organizer of practicum placements.

2007: Rabbi Zahara Davidowitz-Farkas began to teach chaplaincy courses in Israel parallel to Schechter courses under the auspices of the NAJC.

2012: Dr. Ramon wrote the standards and ethical code for spiritual care giving in Israel on behalf of ASCI.

2013: Israeli spiritual caregivers’ code of ethics officially accepted.

2014: Dr. Einat Ramon, Hila Zemer and Adira Ben Aharon were certified by NAJC and the network for spiritual care in Israel (a precursor of the ASCI). Einat Ramon and Hila Zemer were among the founders of The Association for Spiritual care in Israel.

2015: The Marpeh program was accredited by ASCI. Ramon and Zemer were certified as Israeli chaplaincy educators with four other leaders in the field by the ASCI and the NAJC.

2016: Dr. Ramon opened the first training of spiritual care educators at the Marpeh program.

Academic Course Syllabus

Degree structure: 300 academic hours (252 hours of course work, at least 30 hours of individual counseling, at least 18 hours of learning on special study days).

Core Courses

  • Tools and foundations of spiritual care.
  • Varied Religious paradigms as a basis of spiritual care
  • Jewish thought in modernity as a resource of spiritual care and reflection
  • Spiritual care in different populations of Israeli society

Related Courses

  • The Jewish lifecycle (required for MA students, optional for students in other programs)
  • Ethics, Jewish law and medicine in the modern era
  • Spiritual Practice in Jewish and Hebrew literature
  • The Philosophy and Practices of Pluralism

Subject areas covered in the four core courses

  • Knowledge and background about spiritual care, tools and methods of spiritual assessment and practice
  • Spiritual Reflection as a foundation for Spiritual Care
  • Caring for the spiritual needs of different populations in Israel (elderly, different illnesses, young people and populations from different religions, etc.)
  • Using data and research that emphasize the need for integrating spiritual care into general health care

Subject covered in other courses in the context of spiritual care in Israel:

  • Medical ethics
  • Practice of pluralism
  • Biblio-therapy
  • Artistic interpretation of biblical texts
  • Basic concepts of psychotherapy
  • Chassidic storytelling

Practical Work

Hands on guided work in health, welfare and social work systems.