Rabbi Edith Meyerson, 30
Tue, 05/10/2011
Staff Writer
Rabbi Edith Meyerson
Rabbi Edith Meyerson

Thoughts of a career in medicine began at the dinner table. Edith Meyerson’s father, a cardiologist, described his healing work. Meyerson recognized “a sacred element” in medicine.

Her eventual career also began at the family’s dinner table. One college semester of chemistry “kicked my butt.” “What do you want to do now?” her father asked. Something to make people’s lives “a little better,” she answered. “What about a rabbi?” he asked.

The counseling side of the rabbinate, the “one-on-one work,” attracted Meyerson. She was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in 2007, and since 2008 has worked as a chaplain for the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is currently a doctoral candidate in pastoral counseling at Hebrew Union College.

“I feel called,” says the rabbi, who grew up in Baltimore and lives on the Upper West Side. She deals with infirm of all faiths, operating “from a place of Jewish theology.” A typical day: consultations and rounds with physicians and nurses, praying and singing with patients, discussions of life and death, some hugs and hand-holding. She asks, “How are your spirits today?” and listens to peoples’ answers. “I do a lot of listening. My goal is to give them that space for their voice to be heard … to create a space for God to dwell.”

“There is no rush,” she tells patients who share their fears and feelings. “I do not wear a watch.”

Rabbi Meyerson calls her open approach “Edie love.”

“In the Sinai Palliative Care team, Rabbi Meyerson sees a respect for patients’ humanity,” declared a profile in the Institute’s newsletter.

What does her physician father think of his chaplain daughter? “He sheps a lot of nachas,” she says. “Both of my parents do.”

Walker: A rower in college, Rabbi Meyerson is a dedicated long-distance walker, often going on foot to her office and taking frequent walks from
her home to Brooklyn. And triathlete: She entered one sprint triathlon – a shorter version of the endurance event – in Philadelphia, and reached her goal. “I finished.”