The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health is involved in five areas of focus. In one area, Illness and Wellness, the spotlight is on lifecycle events, approaches to self-care and wellness, as well as challenges to physical, emotional and spiritual health. The Kalsman Institute's message is to create relationship-based, caring congregations and communities. We work with the Union for Reform Judaism and neighboring organizations to train students, clergy, healthcare professionals and community members to access and exchange tools and resources that assist individuals, families and groups in times of challenge.

"How does Judaism approach illness and wellness? Are they separate and distinct aspects of life? Or, as the tradition seems to imply, are they two aspects of life's total experience? Insights into this may be gleaned from our textual tradition. As we search classic texts, from Maimonides to the siddur, we find that Judaism presents a holistic approach to issues of health. Judaism understood the dramatic and essential linkage between body, mind and spirit. It teaches that each has a bearing on the other and, in a profound way, reminds us that it is possible to be "healed" without being "cured."

At the heart of the discussions on illness and wellness is the point that all of the discussion regarding these issues returns to a fundamental relationship that we have with God. Health is a mitzvah in order that we are able to be in relationship with God and even in sickness, we remain tzelem elohim. While these beliefs may run counter to much of Western medicine, they are an essential foundation to understanding how Judaism approaches the interface between wellness and illness."

Rabbi Richard Address, DMin, Director,
Department of Jewish Family Concerns, Union for Reform Judaism