Crisis responder rabbis
Pastoral pioneers

Crisis responder rabbis

Rabbis Velly Slavin (left) and Yaakov Glasman in their VCCEM shirts. Photo: Peter Haskin
Rabbis Velly Slavin (left) and Yaakov Glasman in their VCCEM shirts. Photo: Peter Haskin

ST KILDA Shule’s Rabbi Yaakov Glasman and Chabad of Malvern’s Rabbi Velly Slavin have been appointed official chaplains for the Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry (VCCEM) – the first rabbis to attain the position.

The primary purpose of the VCCEM is to provide pastoral support to people affected by traumatic experiences. This can include incidents at major public events and natural disasters or less public emergencies such as road trauma or suicide.

While originally priests or ministers were provided to care for those in need, Victoria’s ever-growing multicultural community has led leadership to bring on chaplains from a range of faiths.

Rabbi Glasman, who is in his final year of a master’s degree in counselling at Monash University, said he put his hand up for the role because he wanted to put his academic studies and 15 years of experience in pastoral care to use.

“We’ve witnessed some terrible times in recent years like the bushfires and other tragedies such as the Bourke Street attack and when people are in distress, I want to be there to help them,” he told The AJN.

Noting the VCCEM training was “rigorous and took months to complete,” he said he feels “well equipped to get out there during emergencies and crises as a chaplain or emergency support person to help people when they need help most”.

Rabbi Slavin said the inability to directly assist while natural disasters or other devastating events occur “has always left me feeling helpless”.

“Joining the VCCEM has given me the opportunity to practically assist and be a support for people in their greatest time of need,” continued the rabbi, who told The AJN that meeting and interacting with inspiring people from other faiths and backgrounds throughout the comprehensive training has been “an extremely rewarding journey of listening, learning and growth”.

Rabbi Slavin, who also serves as a Hatzolah emergency first responder, added, “I hope to be there for others in their time of crisis.”