Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Northeastern New York, in partnership with the Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors, Temple Israel and the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, has hired Rabbi Amiel Monson to serve as community chaplain following the retirement of Rabbi Beverly Magidson, who had served in that role for nearly 25 years.
Monson will provide spiritual connection and support for residents in independent and long-term care facilities, and pastoral care and bereavement support for the community.
“I am excited to join the Capital Region community as the new community chaplain, and I am honored to continue the program whose foundation was created by Rabbi Bev. I have deep respect for her mentorship as I become familiar with the role,” said Monson, who has indicated that he prefers to be called Rabbi Ami by community members.
Originally from Philadelphia, Monson spent the last seven years on the West Coast in a range of positions including spiritual support and counseling for elder residents at Los Angeles Jewish Home and The Nest (Los Angeles, Calif.) and youth director at Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, Calif). The rabbi graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Penn.) with a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion and a certificate in Jewish studies. He earned three master’s degrees from Gratz College (Elkins Park, Penn.) —in Jewish education, Jewish communal service, and Jewish studies. He graduated from The Academy for Jewish Religion (California) and was recently ordained. He follows generations of family rabbis, including his father, and maternal grandfather, who served at Temple Beth El in Troy in the 1940s, and a great-grandfather.
Jane Ginsburg, president and CEO of Jewish Family Services, said, “When I learned that Rabbi Ami Monson was looking for a fulfilling opportunity, I was delighted. Ami and I met in college and connected through Hillel —Ami was the guy that everyone knew and everyone liked, and most importantly, he liked everyone back. Though we were only in touch via Facebook, it was clear that he not only hadn’t changed, but he’d also only expanded his networks and used his special gift of making someone feel seen and heard daily. I’m thrilled he, likewise, saw the value in this role and had the faith in us to move his young family across the country to join us at JFS and at Daughters.”
Rabbi Magidson, his predecessor, said, “Jewish residents of independent and long-term care facilities (whether they are in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities) may be the only Jewish resident or part of a very small group. They may be isolated by unit or floor. Chaplaincy Services brings Jewish cultural and religious practices to these residents, with familiar foods, music, or prayers. The program also sends regular newsletters to help activities directors infuse Yiddishkeit to the programs and in honor of the Jewish holidays. Through the chaplain’s outreach residents know that their community cares about them!”
“Our chaplaincy services form a critical element of our mission to provide to the aged members of our community ‘excellent health care and social service care Jewishly.’ Guided and informed by our exceptional Jewish heritage, we expect that Ami will continue to strengthen that Jewish operational focus — a focus the remains unique to Daughters of Sarah,” said Mark Koblenz chief executive officer for Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors.
“We know that Rabbi Ami will be a true asset for the entire Albany Jewish Community, and we are proud to step up and help ensure our community and region benefit from his experience and pastoral care,” said Gary Ginsburg, president of Temple Israel.
The chaplaincy program under Jewish Family Services is provided in partnership with Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors, Temple Israel, Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, B’nai B’rith Gideon Foundation and the Theodore Strauss Fund (A restricted fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York).