One of the great highlights of a wonderful few days I have had in Dallas during the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education's annual conference was a meeting of a group of Jewish supervisors and supervisors-in-training organized by the extraordinary Rabbi Naomi Kalish.
This meeting was so important in part because of the content of what we talked about -- especially the project of how Jews, and Jewish concerns, can get more of a "seat at the table" at the APCE. But, it was also so important to me just for the fellowship of it.
It can really be lonely being a Jew in CPE. When I was a rabbinical student considering doing CPE I had trouble finding anyone to talk to who had done CPE before; and, certainly, none of my professors or deans had. What a contrast to the mainline Protestant world where CPE has been required of most seminary students for decades. Seminary students have tons of people -- both peers and professors -- who can talk to them about their own CPE experience. And the Protestant people who go on to train to become a CPE supervisor will find that almost all of their peers come out of their same general faith tradition (Protestantism).
Not so for a Jew like me. And so I just want to express how deeply grateful I am to Rabbi Kalish for her efforts to form an official Jewish Network in the ACPE and for making our meeting in Dallas happen. I feel like I have חברה/hevre (community/colleagues) now! I can't even begin to tell you how that makes me feel!
In Judaism we consider הכנסת אורחים/hachnasat orahim (the welcoming of guest) to be one of those great mitzvot that merit a reward both in this world and in the World to Come. I was so welcomed by the Jewish community here in Dallas. Not only by my host Rabbi Paul Steinberg and his family, but also by the members of Congregation Shearith Israel, and, especially, the rabbi of their minyan that I attended on Shabbat, David Glickman.
I most certainly felt like I had fellowship with the Jews who I met here in Dallas, and I am very grateful for that. I will be thinking of them long after I return home to Pennsylvania tonight. Thank you!