Courtesy of RenaArshinoff

Rabbi Rena Arshinoff

Reform/Reconstructionist | Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

For many mortals, Psalm 23:4 is an exaggeration. It is scary to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, which is why I am inspired by Rabbi Rena Arshinoff, a trained nurse who works as a chaplain specializing in palliative care. Last winter, my daughter died in utero two days before her scheduled C-section. Our rabbi was out of town, but she assured us that Rena, a fellow congregant, would meet us at the hospital. Rena literally stood next to me when I doubted I could coach my wife through the delivery of a dead baby. Before joining us in the delivery room, we had barely spoken, and yet there she was when I was scared by the propinquity of the shadow of death. Rena assisted throughout active labor and advised on appropriate rituals to mark my daughter’s birth and mourn her passing. Since then, Rena regularly takes the time to check in with my wife and me during Kiddush, informally but invaluably counseling us through our grief.

— Renan Levine

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