Multi-faith Spiritual Care at Baycrest

Rabbi Dr. Geoffrey Haber

Spiritual Care professionals are an integral part of the Baycrest interprofessional team and provide Spiritual Care to residents, patients, families and staff of all faiths, as well as those with no religious affiliation. The Spiritual Care team, consisting of Chaplains, Interns and Spiritual Care Volunteers, also provides education, consultation, guidance and advocacy for religious and cultural accommodation in the health care setting.

The Spiritual Care team guides itself by four core principles to address the spiritual and religious needs of patients, residents, families and staff:

  1. CARE for all with respect for all religious and spiritual paths, which may or may not be rooted in a religious tradition.
  2. PROVIDE faith-specific religious care and support, including ritual observance, kashrut (dietary laws) and prayer, for those of the Jewish faith within the various expressions of Judaism.
  3. FACILITATE for all religious beliefs of faiths other than Judaism, including provision of ritual items, sacred texts and a place for worship.
  4. ADVISE leadership to ensure the free exercise of religion, to counsel on moral and ethical issues and decision-making, and to abide by the legal and philosophical positions of Jewish law (Halakhah) and Jewish theology (Hashkafah).

Under Guiding Principles 1 (CARE) and 3 (FACILITATE), the Spiritual Care Department works diligently through its Director to establish good relations and contacts within the wide spectrum of Toronto’s religious communities. In this way, the Spiritual Care Department can offer religious care and pastoral support to faith-specific requests from non-Jewish patients. This is especially important since the non-Jewish patients of the Hospital wing at the Baycrest campus comprise approximately 65% of the patient population.

At Baycrest, Catholic chaplains visit weekly to provide Communion, Confession and Sacrament of the Sick. A Eucharistic Minister also provides for Communion. Christian Bibles are available to patients, their families and staff upon request and we provide Protestant worship services for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. In addition, the Spiritual Care Department has on-call priests and ministers from the following Christian denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Christian Reformed, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada.

Thanks to cooperation with Imam Abdul Hai Patel and the GTA Mutlifaith Council, the Spiritual Care Department can also provide on-call chaplain support for the Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu, Hindu-Tamil, Jain, Muslim-Ismaeli, Muslim-Shia, Muslim-Sunni and Zoroastrian faith communities. The Spiritual Care Department can also provide prayer rugs, prayer beads and Arabic-only Qurans upon request and is looking to acquire sacred texts and ritual objects for other faiths as well. In this way we can meet our mandate to CARE for all with respect for all religious and spiritual paths and FACILITATE for all religious beliefs in addition to Judaism.