Rabbi marks 30 years of chaplaincy and weekly pastoral visits

August 28, 2018 by Rachel Phillips
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CEO of Eastern Suburbs crisis centre Jewish House Rabbi Mendel Kastel has been acknowledged for his 30 years of pastoral support to patients at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel accepting his award from acting CEO Mr Todd McKewan – Director of Acute Care Services.

The St Vincent’s Foundation Day celebration included long-service awards for hospital staff and support workers.

Since 1988, Rabbi Kastel has met with Jewish and non-Jewish patients weekly at the hospital, providing care, support, and hope during times of uncertainty and illness. These visits bring hope and comfort to patients and their families. Rabbi Kastel introduced Shabbat packs in conjunction with Montefiore Home which he distributes to Jewish patients during his weekly visits.

Rabbi Kastel said today “It has been an honour to carry out my pastoral work at St Vincent’s hospital for three decades. I have made many friends along the way with the staff and management at the hospital and feel like one of the team, and have often provided support to the doctors and nurses on-call during my visits. I have had the pleasure of working closely with other clergy at the hospital. We are all incredibly supportive of each other and learn from each other, I have built a wonderful friendship with hospital chaplain Fr Laurie.”

Rabbi continued “To see firsthand the trauma and uncertainty patients experience when undergoing medical procedures, and to provide a level of comfort to them and their families – words cannot express the precious value these visits add to these peoples lives. It’s an honour to help in any way I can, to make their hospital stay a little more comfortable”.

“The pastoral support we provide patients at St Vincent’s forms a core part of their treatment as we strive to treat the whole person – addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We are very privileged to have a wonderful Pastoral Care team, and Rabbi Kastel forms a major part of this team. One cannot overstate the difference he has made to so many of our patients over the decades. We are very privileged to have him on Campus – and long may this continue,” said Matthew Kearney, Director of Mission at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Rabbi Kastel first started visiting hospitals at the age of 12 in New York, Pittsburg, and London before regular hospital visits in Sydney, including 10 year’s of regular hospital visits at Prince of Wales & the Sydney Children’s hospital both located in Randwick. He has served in the emergency room of St Vincent’s Hospital on many New Year Eve’s throughout the Midnight – 6am shifts.  Rabbi Kastel also lectures to Medical students at The University of Notre Dame, in Sydney.

Rabbi Kastel has expanded this relationship with St Vincent’s hospital to his work at Jewish House, partnering on initiatives and resources providing support to Jewish House’s clients experiencing drug and alcohol addictions, & mental health issues.

Whilst Rabbi Kastel looks forward to continuing his pastoral visits at St Vincent’s hospital into their 31st year, he is also celebrating many other anniversaries this year – 2018 marks the 35th anniversary of Jewish House, and his 10-year anniversary as CEO of this crisis service.

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