Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another kind of candidate (I passed!)

The news is full of stories these days about the contest between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. But politicians are not the only kinds of candidates there are. In the world of people who train chaplains and other spiritual caregivers becoming a candidate is an important first step in the process to become fully certified as a clinical pastoral educator and supervisor. Today I passed that step after appearing for an hour and a half before a committee of six certified educators. I am so happy!

The process of becoming certified as a supervisor/educator is an extremely demanding one that typically takes three to four years of full-time on-the-job training, but can take much longer. There is only a small number of Jews certified to do this work and not one of those is a male rabbi from the Conservative Movement. I hope to become the first one!

I would like to thank the six members of my committee -- especially my presenter, Nathan Goldberg, and my chair Robin Franklin -- for welcoming me into the certification process and for their willingness to allow me to share my story with them, including the many ups and (sometimes deeply painful) downs I have experienced on my way to becoming a rabbi and a chaplain.

During the session, I thought of master chaplain supervisor Bob Cholke, of blessed memory, and I shared with the committee what an impact on me Cholke had, especially his oft-cited comment about supervising students -- "you just have to love them," Cholke would say. Bob, I dedicate this success to you. May it be the will of the Holy Blessed One that your memory will long continue to be a blessing for us in Clinical Pastoral Education.

I would also like to thank my first supervisor, Yuko Uesugi of the UCLA Medical Center. I told the committee that I would not be here, today, if it was not for you, Yuko. It is true. Your example and your ministry to me were a tremendous gift. I also have to thank my current supervisor, Greg Stoddard. He is a true supervisor's supervisor -- a man so many look to to know how the task of Clinical Pastoral Supervision should be done. He is the master.

Thanks also to my colleagues and teachers at the Eastern Pennsylvania Institute of Clinical Pastoral Supervision (EPICS), especially Jack, who "held my hand" over pasta the night before.

And from the depths of my heart I also thank "the Gecko", who was so patient and tolerant of me through all my anxiety and panic. Whence came this great heart into my life? What did I do to merit this? What a great mercy has the Blessed Holy One had upon me.

And finally, and most of all, I would like thank my patients and my students. You have been my true teachers. I am blessed by your willingness to share your struggles and sufferings -- and your courage! -- with me. I am grateful.

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