The program was initially developed to fill a gap in spiritual need within the Jewish community for those Jews who feel marginalized, isolated, unconnected or unaffiliated with a synagogue or other Jewish agency. Rabbi Lynn began volunteering in early 2015 and became a part-time employee by the end of the year. “I am so proud of JFS’ ability to bring this very unique program to the Twin Cities,” said Ted Flaum, JFS CEO. “It is a natural extension of our work in mental health and our agency vision: to help people successfully navigate the expected and unexpected changes in their lives. Spiritual care through the Community Chaplaincy program is one way to do that.”
“The people to whom I am able to provide spiritual care include some of the least capacitated,” explains Lynn. “They are often in the midst of a crisis and don’t know where to begin to manage the situation. Many of my clients are not deeply rooted with a synagogue and come to me by way of a friend or family member calling me on their behalf, asking me to reach out. Still others live isolated as Jews and welcome the chance to talk about and connect with this part of their lives in a richer and more meaningful manner.”
Community chaplains are based in a community agency rather than a temple or synagogue. They often work in outlying areas or facilities where people cannot attend a house of worship, such as addiction recovery facilities, prisons, senior living facilities and hospitals. “I completed my chaplaincy residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital,” said Lynn. “I continue to provide compassionate spiritual guidance and care and a listening presence, in these settings as well as in homes and a variety of care facilities. I also serve as a hospice chaplain for Legacy Health East Hospice.”
With this program expansion, JFS will be able to provide renewed meaning and hope to more people coping with illness, loneliness, disability, end-of-life issues, and other life struggles. “Sometimes all people need is someone to listen to their story,” explains Lynn. “This expansion will allow me to hear many more stories and be present with them as they find renewed meaning in their lives.”
The JFS Community Chaplaincy program is made possible by community support.