Rabbi Elliot Kukla

Rabbi Elliot Kukla

Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco providing spiritual care to those struggling with illness, grieving or dying where he also co-directs the Healing Center’s Kol HaNeshama: Jewish End of Life Care volunteer hospice program. His articles are published in numerous magazines and anthologized widely. Elliot has lectured on Jewish perspectives on healing, end of life care and diversity across the US and Canada and his liturgy for new life cycles appear in numerous prayer books. He also has served as adjunct faculty in pastoral care at Starr King School for the Ministry (a part of the Graduate Theological Seminary of UC Berkeley). Elliot was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 2006 and trained in chaplaincy at UCSF Medical Center in 2007. Elliot can be reached at ekukla@ioaging.org.

Ha’azinu

This past July I spent three days at a monastery in Big Sur, California, with Benedictine monks who live as hermits. It is a silent atmosphere, so I spent most of my day in an isolated trailer without phone, traffic, email or conversation. The first day I was there was one of the longest and …Read More

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Beha’alotcha

“I don’t understand why I keep making the same mistakes,” a patient of mine recently told me. He had called for a chaplain in the middle of the night because he felt overwhelmed by remorse. “I have been hospitalized five times now. I’ve lost my girlfriend, my friends, my law practice, all because of drinking… …Read More

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Matot

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the one place in the world where you have felt the safest and the most secure. For most of us this visualization brings up images of home—being nestled in bed in a childhood home, cooking dinner for loved ones in an adult home we created, standing still …Read More

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Emor

Sarah, a member of my congregation, once explained to me why she was proudly a “bad Jew.”  She had hated her traditional religious upbringing. As soon as she left home she proudly embraced a fully secular lifestyle. Although she eventually found her way back to Judaism through belonging to a liberal synagogue, Sarah told me …Read More

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Shmini

I currently serve as a chaplain in a locked ward in a psychiatric hospital. A patient of mine named “John” was recently discharged from the unit. As he was leaving, he told me that the time he had spent there was the first time in his life that he had felt truly free. I was …Read More

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Ki Tisa

When I was in rabbinical school, I officiated at a Bat Mitzvah for Beatrice, a young girl who was reading from this week’s parshah, Ki Tisa. As we studied the famous story of the golden calf, she asked me an excellent question:  “What is wrong with idol worship, anyway?” After all, she pointed out, the …Read More

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Beshalach

For most of the past 3,000 years, civilization was shaped by smallpox. The disease decimated entire populations, destroyed cultures, swept across continents and altered the course of human history. Smallpox killed five reigning European monarchs in the 18th century alone. For people born in previous centuries, the disease was a fact of nature, a part …Read More

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Vayigash

In my work as a hospital chaplain, I am often privileged to accompany people in the last days of their lives or the lives of their loved ones. I recently spent a long night with Mark, a middle-aged man who had camped out in the waiting room outside his mother’s hospital room. The doctors had …Read More

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Vayetze

Jacob dreamed of a ladder filled with clambering angels. For 2,000 years, Jewish commentators have examined every detail of this dream and found within it a series of multi-faceted metaphors for the grand narrative of history.[1] But it is the moment when Jacob wakes to an ordinary day in a bleak desert that I find …Read More

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Bereshit

When I was five years old, I developed a bad habit.  My Jewish family was involved with a Tibetan Buddhist Temple, and while the adults were inside in silent meditation, I would occasionally sneak out to the lawn and ring the large ceremonial gong that was used to rouse the entire Temple into action.  This …Read More

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