Program in Spiritual Care at the End of Life

Accompanying people through their end-of-life transitions

The new Rabbinical School of Hebrew College-Hebrew SeniorLife Program in Spiritual Care at the End of Life brings together Rabbinical School students clergy, lay leaders, and health care professionals to help individuals and communities provide a caring presence at the end of life.

This interdisciplinary program provides participants with a strong introduction to the art and skills of spiritual care at the very ends of people’s lives. Students will learn to cultivate the skills and sensitivities necessary to provide integrated, holistic and pastorally focused support to critically ill individuals and their families. The program includes in-depth study of Jewish sources on end-of-life topics, professional topics on caring for people and their families as lives come to an end, as well as supervised clinical work. Clergy may choose to fulfill this requirement through ongoing pastoral work with congregants. For non-clergy, we will place students in clinical settings for this portion of the program.

Specialization & CertificateTracks

Students who wish to earn a certificate in Spiritual Care at the End of Life or Rabbinical School degree candidates who wish to earn a specialization in Spiritual Care at the End of Life must be accepted to the program.

  • The Certificate in Spiritual Care at the End of Life is open to: Jewish clergy, chesed committee members, Chevra Kadisha members, Jewish funeral directors, mIkveh guides, and health care and social workers and is designed to fit the busy schedules of working professionals. 
  • The specilization in Spiritual Care at the End of Life is open to Hebrew College Rabbinical School students.

Courses will cover Jewish approaches to living, dying and death, Jewish approaches to spirituality; roles of caring at the end of life; self-care for caregivers; text-based learning and classroom discussion supported by real life experience. Program specifics include:

  • One academic year commitment: October - May (22 classes)
  • Two hours of class time per week Mondays, 3- 5 p.m. at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, MA 
  • Two-day fall intensive opening seminar:  
    • Day One - Jewish approaches to living, dying and death
    • Day Two - Jewish approaches to spirituality; the roles of clergy and community at the end of life; self care for caregivers. 
  • Clinical hours

Course Topics

  • Medical, ethical & legal issues in palliative care – advanced directives, health care proxies, options in life-sustaining treatment, ethical wills, health insurance and its intersection with health care practice decisions; differences between secular and a range of Jewish bioethical approaches.
  • Text-based learning on Jewish law, ethics, suffering, end of life, and pastoral care - cultivating personal spiritual practice that empowers us to be better and more aware caretakers.
  • Hands-on skill-building – topics and ritual around suffering, illness, healing, death and mourning.


Participants will have the opportunity to learn from Hebrew College faculty as well as other leaders in the field, including:

  • Rabbi Ebn Leader, faculty member, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, and authority on the intersection of Jewish life and spirituality. 
  • Rabbi Beth Naditch, CPE Supervisor; teaches CPE units at Hebrew SeniorLife. 
  • Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, director of religious and chaplaincy services at Hebrew SeniorLife. C-oauthor of Deathbed Wisdom of the Hasidic Masters: The Book of Departure and Caring for People at the End of Life (Jewish Lights)
  • Rabbi Joel Baron, program director, is a hospice chaplain at Hebrew SeniorLife. 

Rabbinical Students: This certificate is one of six specialization tracks. Courses are taken as electives, primarily during the final two years of the program. There is no additional cost or additional time in school. 

We are deeply grateful that this program is underwritten by a generous grant so we can offer if for $3,000.


Rabbi Dan Judson

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“When I’m with my patients it’s like standing on Holy ground.”
-Rabbi Joel Baron Hospice Chaplain, Hebrew SeniorLife