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Naomi Rachel Kalish

  • Judaism
  • USA
  • Female
  • USA
  • North America
  • KAICIID Fellows

Biography Narrative

Coordinator of Pastoral Care & Education at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

Rabbi Naomi Kalish is the Coordinator of Pastoral Care and Education at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, where she teaches Clinical Pastoral Education to religiously diverse groups of students. She teaches “Spirituality in Health” at the Columbia University Medical Center and is the incoming Vice Chair of the Pediatric Ethics Committee. Naomi has taught chaplaincy programs and courses at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yeshivat Maharat and the Academy for Jewish Religion and is a Past President of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. Naomi has published articles and book chapters in the areas of spiritual care, pediatrics, disaster response, education, and caring for Jewish patients and families. She is a doctoral candidate in Education and Jewish Studies at New York University and is writing a history of the Jewish entry into the field of Chaplaincy Education.

Naomi is the Chair of Sadaqah-Tzedakah Day, a national community service program of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an organization that cultivates relationship and understanding between Muslim and Jewish women. She is a Founding Board Member of the Hudson County Brotherhood/Sisterhood Association and is the Director of the Hudson Interfaith Teen Initiative in Hudson County, New Jersey, one of the most diverse counties in the United States. Previously Naomi served as the Assistant Director of the Seminarians Interacting Program through the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Naomi is especially interested in exploring how caregiving practices and education can contribute to promoting peace. She identifies with the quotation by psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, MD, “Before analyzing, before classifying, before thinking, before trying to do anything–we should listen.”

Interreligious Activities and Initiatives

Empowering Religious and Spiritual Care During COVID-19
Teen Dialogue Calendar Project

The Teen Dialogue Calendar Project is an educational community IRD program for teenagers from diverse religious backgrounds in Hudson County, NJ, one of the most nationally, linguistically, racially/ethnically, and religiously diverse regions of the USA. This is a further development of the Teen Dialogue for Peace Pilot Project that I launched this Spring, in collaboration with the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Association of Hudson County and funded as a Jewish Theological Seminary Innovation Project. Over one summer week, a group of teens will participate in community service and site visits to learn about hospitality and sacred time in different faith traditions. Using a constructivist educational method, students will respond, integrate, and make meaning of these experiences through visual arts and writing and will share their creative work through a 2019 Hudson County Community Interfaith Calendar, distributed in print and online. I seek to celebrate the students’ accomplishments with a memento akin to a yearbook that will help the students to retain and extend their learning, to leverage their accomplishment to cultivate awareness about IRD throughout the local community and to address the generational gap in use of technology in many immigrant families.

KAICIID Calendar4Peace

The KAICIID Calendar4Peace Project will create and implement a process for the production of a 2021 interfaith calendar by and for KAICIID Alunni that promotes peace. The calendar will list religious holidays from the world religions represented by KAICIID Fellows (Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Yazidi) and will seek denominational diversity. It will include content about the holidays and guidelines for understanding and using calendaring to create inclusive dialogue programs. The calendar will feature artwork by KAICIID Alumni Fellows or people they know that promotes dialogue, conflict transformation and peace from religious perspectives.

The process will consist of two phases. At least twenty Alumni Fellows convene as the core group and meet by online sessions 6-8 times over the course of the year. They will be artists and/or religious holiday content experts. As this project is a scaling up of my 2018 Fellows Project, we already have a draft to work from. I, as the Coordinator, will do the formatting and arrange for printing. We will print 1,000 copies. (I learned from my project that the cost of printing 1,000 was not significantly higher than 500.) We will arrange for the calendar to be presented to the 2020 Fellows at their graduation in November/December 2020 and we will mail copies to each of the Alumni. Each Alumni Fellow will receive three copies: one for him/herself and two to distribute to other IRD, community, government or religious leaders. We hope that this will prompt local interest in the development of interfaith calendars.