KentuckyOne Health recently announced that Rabbi Dr. Nadia Siritsky, MSSW, BCC, has been named vice president of mission for Jewish Hospital, University of Louisville and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.
Rabbi Dr. Siritsky is excited about her new position at KentuckyOne. “I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to preserve, celebrate, honor and promote the Jewish heritage of Jewish Hospital.”
“Jewish Hospital is part of the Jewish community,” she added, “and its Jewish future depends on the Jewish community.” To further that commitment, Rabbi Dr. Siritsky plans to enter into conversations with the congregations, the Jewish Community of Louisville, Jewish Family & Career Services and others to explore ways to collaborate, “whether it’s working with the caring communities in synagogues or whether it’s thinking strategically with the leadership in terms of what the future of Jewish Louisville will be.”
A mission leader, she explained, is traditionally a Catholic role in the Catholic Health Care System. The Louisville market, however, is unique in that it also includes Jewish Hospital and an academic center – the University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. She sees her role as ensuring that “the unique identities of each campus are honored and respected within the larger KentuckyOne Health family.”
“One of the goals is for me to reach out to the Jewish community and share a little bit about the many exciting initiatives KentuckyOne and Jewish Hospital are doing,” Rabbi Dr. Siritsky said, “how they are living out Jewish values and doing mitzvot,” including things like caring for the homeless, providing health care for the uninsured and underinsured, as well as creating access to health care for the people in Appalachia.
KentuckyOne Health’s mission, she stated, “is to bring wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved,” and its core values are reverence, integrity, compassion and excellence. These themes resonate with Jewish tradition and Catholic tradition alike, and even with those who don’t identify with any religion. “The more we understand that we’re not as different as we think and the more we learn how to live together in respectful ways, the better we, as a human society, will be.”
“I am integrated into conversations and decisions at every level,” she said. “I work with the whole team. I’m involved in every part of the organization, so it’s an opportunity to really integrate mission and spirit into the day-to-day operations so that we are sure that we always walk the talk.”
Rabbi Dr. Siritsky also sees herself as an educator, bringing the Jewish voice to the table and helping to find ways of integrating it into the KentuckyOne family. “When the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center joined the KentuckyOne Health family last year, new opportunities to learn and grow emerged,” she said. “Their commitment to excellence in research, teaching and community service, their dedication to education and diversity, all of these made them a natural partner in working to improve the health and well-being of the Commonwealth.”
She explains she is committed to doing this, while ensuring that the academic voice is also respected and celebrated for the unique gifts that it brings. As vice president of the downtown medical campus, she is working to help the staff at all three hospitals connect their personal sense of mission with the larger mission of the organization, and actualize their shared values. “The Jewish commitment to Torah is a value that this new University partner holds as well,” she explained.
“I know that I am part of an organization that is reverent in its commitment to respect the unique heritages of Jewish and University hospital. We are dedicated to consistently learning, growing and improving our ability to bring healing, hope and wellness to everyone, in the midst of a new and changing national healthcare environment,” she added.
At KentuckyOne, she’s also found an eagerness to learn and a desire for openness. “I have been so moved and blown away by how excited and grateful people are [to learn], whether they’re Jewish or not, not only about Judaism, but about the diversity of our community and how to connect their spirituality to the sacred work that they do every day,” she said.
Rabbi Dr. Siritsky is also excited about returning to Louisville. Earlier in her career, she served as a rabbi at The Temple. “When I first moved here,” she said, “it was for two years.
“Really, Louisville wasn’t even on my radar until I met Rabbi [Joe Rooks] Rapport, Mickey Heideman at my first interview at Hebrew Union College,” she continued. “After I met them, and visited the city, it went to the top of my list. It felt like home immediately.
“Even after leaving,” she went on, “it still felt like home. I kept my cell phone number, 502 area code, [even when I] moved to Canada. … I kept it because Louisville felt like home and I felt a close connection to the city, to the people and to the community.
“I’m excited not only to be returning home, but to be part of this exciting new energy that I feel in Louisville as we begin to discern what the new chapter is going to look like for us together,” she added.
Originally from Montreal, Canada, she was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also completed her doctorate in ministry. She completed her chaplaincy training program at the HealthCare Chaplaincy in New York, where she also served as an interfaith chaplain with the Red Cross, following the September 11 attacks. She is a graduate of the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, where she studied the effects of psychosocial interventions in the management of chronic illness. Her doctoral research focused on the integration of pastoral theory in health care management in order to reduce compassion fatigue and turnover, as well as to improve productivity and patient care.
In addition to her congregational experience, at The Temple here in Louisville and at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, Rabbi Dr. Siritsky has also worked as an interfaith chaplain and psychotherapist in several settings including hospice and palliative care, as well as consulting, fundraising and grant writing for nonprofit organizations. She has served on the board of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, the Society for Classical Reform Judaism and on the Rabbinic Advisory Committee for Interfaithfamily.com.