The Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University offers a unique 18-credit advanced Certificate Program in Gerontology and Palliative Care for rabbis and cantors of all denominations to address a national need for well-trained clergy who can support healthy aging and deliver compassionate, quality care for serious and advanced illness. A small number of other professionals serving the Jewish community may also be considered for the program.
The program is offered completely online to make it as convenient as possible for working professionals to participate. Gary Stein, professor at Wurzweiler and one of the architects of the program, hopes to recruit a first cohort comprised of “our rabbinical students at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and community rabbis and cantors.” Students and clergy will be supported by scholarships to make the classes affordable.
The curriculum will be integrated with current rabbinic and religious education and cover the following areas: basic counseling with individuals, families and groups; building healthy relationships through the life span; social gerontology; palliative care and social work practice with serious illness; coping with loss; and aging in the Jewish community.
In addition, while the 18 credits from this certificate may be applied toward a full 60-credit Master in Social Work (MSW) at Wurzweiler, the certificate program is also self-contained, fulfilling the needs of those who feel they need strong grounding but who do not necessarily need to engage in advanced study. In this way, the certificate provides flexible solutions to meet the different needs of rabbis. Those who opt to complete Wurzweiler’s MSW program will be eligible for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker.
The program will convene an advisory council of community and religious leaders along with seasoned practitioners in palliative care and gerontology to evaluate the courses and identify rabbinical networks for recruitment.
Stein noted that “it is fitting and appropriate for Wurzweiler, based at Yeshiva University, to be reaching out to rabbinical students as well as community rabbis and cantors to help them provide the best care to their congregants, many of whom who are older and facing serious illness, and to the families taking on the roles of caregivers.”
“The core values of the social work profession,” said Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, “obligate us to care for every aspect of people’s well-being from the beginning of their lives until the end. This certificate program fulfills this mission with both elegance and efficiency, empowering rabbis and other spiritual counselors to provide assistance that satisfies the physical, emotional and religious needs of their charges.”