Rabbi Jennifer Tisdale Kaluzny on your 13th anniversary in service to Temple Israel and as our colleague at the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network. The following letter appeared on June 22 in the commemoration journal honoring this milestone.
How time flies!
It seems like only yesterday when young Jennifer Tisdale, the nascent rabbinical student, wandered into our “On Golden Pond” — an all-boys rabbi group — expressing interest in joining our clinical pastoral education program. She looked so young I wanted to suggest she come back after her bat mitzvah. But she had her mind set on becoming a hospice rabbi.
Here were these older guys like me: Rabbi Dannel Schwartz, Rabbi Irving Schnipper, Rabbi David Nelson, Rabbi Avie Shapiro, et al … How would she fit in? How could a kid handle this tought stuff?
We thought, “let’s humor her.” We figured she would be quickly scared off by all the fear, trepidation and the often terrible realities that we, the “seasoned” adults face daily in our hospice world. Boy, we were soooooo wrong.
Today our “veteran” Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny is a highly acknowledged expert in our field who stands shoulder to shoulder as an equal with each of the Rabbis on our diverse team. Her leadership and fierce, articulate advocacy for the most vulnerable patients and the humblest of our society has made her a most respected leader throughout our community and beyond.
She willingly and bravely steps into the most complicated and soul-searing situations with courage and confidence.
She brings the entirety of her effervescent personality, her empathetic skills and her warm and compassionate heart to every person who seeks out her support and solace.
She is a gift to our chaplaincy team. We love and learn from each other; we routinely set aside our individual theological postures, and age and gender differences, to ensure that no member of the Detroit Jewish community ever feels alone, regardless of their background. I am very proud of our dear friend and colleague, Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny. Thank you for your determination and perseverance. Todah Rabah — Thank you for your selfless service to Ahm Yisroel.
Rabbi E. B. (Bunny) Freedman
Founding Director and CEO