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Catholic Hospital Hangs 270 Mezuzahs on Facility, A California First

Providence Tarzana Medical Center Reaches Out To Jewish Patients With Chabad’s Help

By , Los Angeles, CA

( When Providence Tarzana Medical Center looked to become the first San Fernando Valley hospital to hang mezuzahs in all patient areas, they turned to Chabad of the Valley for assistance.

Hospital officials, administrators, doctors, nurses and area rabbis celebrated the placement of the first mezuzah, in the hospital auditorium, in mid-March. At the gathering, Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder, associate director of the Chabad of the Valley shared thoughts on the mezuzah’s role in spiritual and physical security. Rabbi Bruce Raff of Temple Judea and Rabbi Edward Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom spoke as well.

Hanging the rest of the holy scrolls took several weeks because the hospital committed itself to placing them in all patient rooms and public rooms. With a hospital staff member at his side and super strong double-stick tape in hand, Chabad of the Valley’s director of development Rabbi Yanky Kahn hung over 270 mezuzahs, each encased in a sleek copper-tone tube.

“The mezuzahs represent a beautiful partnership between a local hospital and Chabad as we work hand in hand to make the world a safer, healthier place,” said Rabbi Kahn.

Chabad helped the hospital purchase authentic mezuzahs, handwritten by trained scribes on natural parchment. “The rabbis at Chabad were the ones who really spearheaded the project, getting the mezuzahs. It was a really good experience,” said Shawn Kiley, director of mission leadership at Providence Tarzana. “Reaction to the mezuzahs has been positive. They’ve been really well received.”

Providence Tarzana, which serves a patient population that is 20-25% Jewish, stands down the block from Chabad of the Valley headquarters on Burbank Blvd. Providence Health and Services, a large not-for-profit Catholic health ministry with 27 hospitals in the western United States and Alaska, bought the medical center in 2008. The move to place mezuzahs at all doorposts signaled the hospital’s commitment to honoring their patients’ beliefs.

“Our patients do not have to check their faith at the door,” according to Shawn Kiley, director of mission leadership. “Now that this is a Catholic-run hospital, those who are Jewish can celebrate their faith even more than before.” 

Beyond mezuzahs, Providence Tarzana offers Jewish patients electric candles to light for Shabbat, kosher meals and the services of two on-site chaplains. Chabad rabbis are part of the spiritual care advisory board that meets quarterly to address religious issues. Chabad of the Valley, under the leadership of Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon, hosts holiday festivities at the hospital during Chanukah and Purim and throughout the year. They are also on call for patients who request Chabad chaplain services. 

Providence Tarzana and Chabad are deepening their partnership. Chabad of the Valley, an umbrella of 24 Chabad centers, is developing a new program to deal with drug and alcohol addiction. According to Kiley, Providence Tarzana’s clinical social workers are part of the Chabad coalition. 

“We are looking for ways to help Chabad in their places of faith. We are solidifying our relationship with the rabbis and are looking forward to helping them with their initiatives in their community.”


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