Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917-446-2126 rablenblank@gmail.com
Thursday, August 4th,2022, 7 Av, 5782

On Wednesday July 27th 2022 we presented the webinar Al Tashlicheinu  l’ Zeis Ziknah; What Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains need to know about dementia. The presenter was Adina Segal LCSW of CaringKind. Like with many illnesses, there is a component of despair, hopelessness, helplessness and the mourning of losing a loved one who no longer in a sense, is part of this world. For a spouse or other family members, the burden of caring for a loved one with dementia can be tremendously taxing physically, emotionally and spiritually. CaringKind offers many types of support for the person with dementia and especially for the care givers, family members and all loved ones. Knowing they are not alone, and can tap into the CaringaKind for important  support is immensely comforting. However, the rabbi, rebbetzin and chaplain can play an important role in helping keep ones sanity giving appropriate support to the family members and seeking guidance and  assistance that can be offered. 

Where is the hope ? One of the most difficult feelings a caregiver, spouse, loved one is not being understood by the medical team, who just does not know what that person(s) is going through. Sometimes just holding the hand is enough, and sometimes it is the gut understanding of the complex issues the caregiver is going through. Being empathetic is so important. With dementia there can be moments that make it seem, there is hope that the person is “coming out of it” when she/he can have moments of being lucid, recognizing others, saying words that are clear. But then, that all seems to disappear and that hope seems to be gone forever. However, those moments can return, Hope that those moments when they do occur should be filled with thankfulness and find meaning. Hope is knowing there are professionals who fully understand what the caregivers, relatives and others are going through. Hope is knowing, that CaringKind has support groups and other types of assistance where no one has to feel alone in this world. Hope is for the rabbi, rebbetzin and chaplain to be able to learn, gain a better insight of what dementia is all about and how to be of help to the caregiver, family member etc. It is vital for the rabbi and rebbetzin to be able to give appropriate advice that is truly helpful, beneficial and meaningful. That was a major reason for the webinar. Some of the topics covered were; What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s? Normal Aging vs Dementia, Signs and Symptoms, Course of Illness, Ambiguous Loss- what is it ? Caregiver Burnout, Concerns for the “Well Spouse”, Holocaust survivors and Dementia, What Rabbonim should be aware of when receiving shailos about dementia. Adina Segal can be reached at asegal@cknyc.org for support, questions and advice.

Professional healthcare chaplains who are educated and trained to listen and when necessary to advise. Healthcare chaplains often work closely with the medical  team, able to read patient charts, and work closely with caregivers, family members and others. This includes patients with many diverse illnesses such as with dementia. However, as part of their continuing education this webinar is also another opportunity of learning the many aspects of dementia. 

From Psalms Tehillim 34:5 ‘I sought out H/G and He answered me, and from all my terrors He delivered me.’

Ibid 55:23 “Cast upon H/G your burden and He will sustain you; He will not allow ever the faltering of the righteous.”

Ibid 46:2 “ H/G is for us a refuge and strength, a help in distress, very accessible.” 

From The Power of Hope. The one essential of Life and Love by Rabbi Maurice Lamm Rawson Associates New York Scribner Simon & Schuster Pages 173-174. 

“Most of us are spiritually attuned, whether we are formally religious or not, and our souls need to go beyond trying to be trusting- in G, in a transcendent force, in a Higher Power that determines our destinies. We can’t trust in trying alone.

No one sails through life on a serene sea, oars shipped with a gentle breeze at our backs. We experience, at some time in our lives- if not more often – a severe loss of hope, a numbness in the face of a staggering problem, disappointment in ourselves. We may at this moment be wrestling with an intractable dilemma. We search for some solution, a key, a way out, a glimmer of good news. How will we manage, after we have exhausted our resources and yet remain in a gum of troubles from which we cannot free ourselves?

We turn to G. We place our hopes on G’s shoulders. Some do this because they think of G as a partner in life, and have a running conversation with Him about the major happenings of their lives. Many wonderful people who do not subscribe to any formal religion do just that. 

There lingers inside all of us a ray- a single stray beam- which diffuses our souls, our hopes, with a faint glow, “Maybe. Just maybe.”  

But now I urge you to take that final step. After you have tried your best, you need to trust that your goals will be accomplished. 

So take my hand. We have come a long way together. We will go all the way together.” 

From Rebbe Nachman of Breslow The Gentle Weapon Prayers for everyday and not so everyday moments Jewish Lights Publishing.“ 


G of life, help me pray with all the force I can muster. If only I could invest all my energy into each word- even into every letter- of my prayers, I know that it would give me renewed strength… renewed spirit. “Prayer to the Almighty is my life,” says the Psalmist. Please, help me pray.”


“Oh , how I want to cry out to You, G of strength, to cry undistracted and with a pure heart. Help me pray with all my strength, to until raise my voice in resounding supplication until my own prayers strike my mind like thunderclaps, and refine the innermost recesses of my heart.” 

Adina Segal and I are presently planning forthcoming  presentations which will take our readers to the next steps about dementia -to be announced. 

Thank you. Sincerely yours. Rabbi Yehuda Blank

      Please click here to see the webinar Al Tashlicheinu l’Eis Ziknah:

What Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains Need to Know About Dementia.