Rabbi Hersh returns to head JF&CS Chaplaincy Program; volunteers sought

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) is pleased to announce Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh has returned to the agency’s Chaplaincy Program. She steps back into her position having recently spent several months in Australia.

A former rabbi at United Hebrew Congregation, Hersh visits with nearly 400 unaffiliated Jewish residents of nursing homes and extended care facilities throughout the St. Louis region each month.

The purpose of the Chaplaincy program is to reduce the isolation experienced by many residents of long term care facilities, help residents maintain their highest possible level of functioning and help them maintain a connection to the Jewish community.

The JF&CS Chaplaincy Program is in search of caring volunteers to spend time with residents, providing companionship. Volunteer duties include visiting with assigned residents at least once a month and engaging residents in appropriate communication activities. All volunteers receive personalized training on the aging process and communication with the elderly.

“This program provides residents with a connection to the outside community and enhances their quality of life,” said Rabbi Hersh. “The program would not be complete without the dedication of our volunteers. They impact the lives of these individuals in such a positive way through the simplest of gestures such as listening to their fascinating life stories. The presence of a volunteer adds tremendous meaning to a sometimes very lonely day.”

Longtime Chaplaincy volunteer Shirlene Baris explains that she and the others call on residents who usually don’t have many visitors. “They light up when they see me, but I think I get more out of it than they do,” said Baris. “I took a chance seven years ago when I decided to volunteer for the first time. I wish more people would do it.”

For more information about volunteering for the Chaplaincy program, contact Kelly Mueller at 314-812-9386 or [email protected].