An ACPE Academy Webinar

Spiritual Care of Jews Who Identify As Nonreligious    
Presenter(s): Mary Martha Thiel and Sara Paasche-Orlow
Presented on: March 2, 2016

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 to watch the webinar recording

Click here for the PowerPoint slides 
For an article about this topic, please click here: Spiritual Care of Jews who Identify as Nonreligious

Webinar Description:

Culturally appropriate spiritual care of Jews who are not religious shares some characteristics with spiritual care of other nonreligious Americans, and differs significantly in other ways, due to Judaism’s uniqueness as a tradition.  Mapping a Jewish patient’s location in the wide expanse of belief, behaviors that are based in Jewish values or ritual, and sense of belonging, is essential to providing appropriate spiritual care.  Chaplains’ awareness should include “Jews of No Religion” as a significant identifier within American Jewish pluralism. In addition, a chaplain needs spiritual assessment models sufficiently inclusive to guide their work with this subset of Jews, and a culturally appropriate toolkit of spiritual care interventions.  Because professional chaplains are usually religiously socialized and seminary or rabbinical school trained, the spiritual care of “Jews of No Religion” requires intentional empathy and cultural humility.  Given the historical abuses of Jews by Christians, professional chaplains affiliated with Christian denominations often face the additional challenge of establishing their credibility as trustworthy caregivers willing to support Jews on the patients’ own terms.  


Rev. Mary Martha Thiel is Director of Clinical Pastoral Education at Hebrew SeniorLife/Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. She is an ordained United Church of Christ minister, Board Certified Chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains, and a CPE Supervisor in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. She began her career at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx NY, a palliative care hospital for persons with advanced cancer, and served for many years in leadership of the Chaplaincy at Massachusetts General Hospital. She loves the creativity of CPE, and in addition to starting the unique Jewish Geriatric program at HSL/HRC, helped to create a groundbreaking CPE program for teaching healthcare professionals how to integrate spiritual caregiving into the practice of their own disciplines. She lives in Brookline, and enjoys being part of an interfaith Daughters of Abraham book group. You may contact her at

Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She began CPE training at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco and did a rabbinical internship doing pastoral care with people with HIV and AIDS in NYC. As a CLAL Fellow, she co-authored a curriculum on Jewish Healing for the National Association for Jewish Healing. Sara worked as a Program Officer and Educator for the Jewish Life Network, and then as the National Education Director for Spark (Jewish Service Learning). She is now Rabbi and Director of Spiritual Care at HSL.

ACPE Academy 

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