The Department of Spiritual Care and Education

Imam Souleimane Konate entered, his robes billowing out behind him.  He sat down and joined the others, some regulars and a few new to the group.  It was the morning of the monthly community religious leaders involvement breakfast.  Rabbi Rafael Goldstein, Director of the Department of Spiritual Care and Education introduced himself and we went around the table giving our names and congregations.  The Imam then gave the opening blessing, in both Arabic and English.

A Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, Dr. Henry Moyle, presented information on stroke that was easily accessible.  The Q & A was very lively.  It always is, as the topics are immediately important to the clergy, either personally, or for their congregations.  During announcements, we celebrated a new Pentecostal congregation, a breakaway from a church that is also involved with the group.  The celebrants were the Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Muslims, Episcopalians and Jews who regularly attend this monthly learn and network group.  Amid the congratulations and mazel tovs there was a genuine feeling of festive new beginnings.  The closing benediction was delivered by a Catholic priest who is also a Zen teacher.  This was a normal outreach breakfast!

From the beginning of our breakfast outreach, topics have ranged from genetic testing and women’s cancers, organ donation, diabetes and healthful eating, men’s health issues, perinatal bereavement programs, palliative care in a hospital setting, integrative pain management, Alzheimer disease, liver and kidney issues.  We spent the better part of a morning at the Adolescent Health Center, an important resource for this community.

Yearly we hold programs on diabetes as this area is Diabetes Central for the country.  Our HIV/AIDS programs have been received with enormous gratitude.  Located in the center of so much chronic disease, Mount Sinai’s outreach has meant life and disease management for so many in this community.  We are fortunate to have the enthusiastic participation of doctors and social workers from both the Hospital and Medical School at these monthly gatherings.

As the volunteer coordinator of community clergy outreach, I am struck by the genuine friendship and interest that has grown within this group that has been meeting for nearly three years.  Some of the clergy have joined our Chaplaincy group, offering comfort and help to patients and their families.  Others have held health fairs in their community featuring Mount Sinai physicians.

We began with the hope of serving our local community and hoping for some clergy to join the chaplaincy staff.  Out of this desire, Rabbi Rafael Goldstein worked with an imam to begin holding weekly Friday afternoon Jumah services.  The Mount Sinai Hospital is among the first New York hospitals to offer weekly Moslem services to patients and their visitors

The Department has now been certified to provide in-house training for chaplaincy.  This makes The Mount Sinai Hospital one of the first in New York to be so certified.

Linda Kleinman
Volunteer, Religious Leaders Involvement Coordinator

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