It’s the summer of 2017 and a new group of students has arrived on Hebrew SeniorLife’s Boston campus. They are part of HSL’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, and all are eager to learn about spiritual care as it relates to aging, illnesses of aging, family caregivers, bioethical decision-making, dying, and bereavement and share their newfound knowledge with their local communities.
Not physically present in Boston, but fully committed to the program is Annabelle Herciger-Tenzer, of Israel. When accepted into the program, Annabelle had every intention of traveling to Boston to be part of the group. Forced to cancel the trip at the last moment, she feels grateful to be able to participate via Zoom, a video conferencing web-based tool.
I got the chance to ask Annabelle some questions to find out what appealed to her about Clinical Pastoral Education. We’re delighted to share this ‘Q and A’ with you.
How did you learn of this opportunity to be part of the CPE program and why did you decide to enroll?
I work as a chaplain in a non-profit organization in Israel. The rabbi, who is also head of the organization, encourages all chaplains to pursue their education beyond the necessary requirements. The rabbi herself participated in this same program and spoke so warmly of how much she appreciated the program and how much she learned from Rev. Mary Martha Thiel, director of HSL’s CPE program.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
I decided this was an experience I wanted to have, to learn how things are done in the United States. I hope to be strengthened in areas outside of my comfort zone. Since I work in a neurology department and see many patients with impaired speech, I want to learn more about the role of music in chaplaincy work. Music is a powerful tool. I also hope to gain more skills working with patients who have dementia.
Tell us about yourself. Share something only your closest friend knows about you.
I was born in Belgium to Holocaust survivor parents. I studied languages in college and completed a master’s degree program in Jerusalem. After graduation I started rabbinical studies and specialized in spiritual care. Next year I hope to begin a doctorate program in spiritual care, comparing Israeli and American CPE programs. Only my closest friends know that I cherish my freedom more than anything else. I love being alone.
I love going to galleries, museums, and classical concerts on my own. I once traveled to Indonesia alone. I like to discover the hidden gems throughout Israel. I’m so lucky that my hobby is traveling, which is also my profession (Annabelle works part-time as a tour guide).
Any fond memories of times you shared with elderly relatives?
The first memory I have is of my grandpa coming to kindergarten where I felt utterly miserable. He came to take me home. And he said to me, “You’re too precious, my little princess, never do anything you don’t like doing. If you don’t like kindergarten, then you just won’t go. You will stay with Grandma and me.” They arranged a space in their kitchen and called it a ‘mini kindergarten’ and it had children’s books and lots of crayons. I enjoyed the time with my grandparents enormously.
Have you ever been to Boston?
I’ve never visited Boston and have been to the States only once. A home situation forced me to cancel my trip, but I hope it will be possible to visit Boston in the near future.
Learn more about Hebrew SeniorLife’s CPE program, which is the only Jewish geriatric CPE program accredited by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. in the country.
Want to apply for our CPE program? Get application details here.