A changing of the guard is under way at the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset. Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, who joined the staff in mid-August, is taking over the chaplaincy from Rabbi David Glicksman, who was with the institution for 19 years.
Rabbinical duties are wide-ranging at the campus, which comprises the Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence, the Lena and David T. Wilentz Senior Residence, the Stein Hospice, and the privately-run Regency Heritage Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Like Glicksman, Kinzbrunner will conduct services and organize cultural events, in addition to counseling patients and their families and the staff and overseeing the kitchen.
Glicksman, who has been semi-retired for the past couple of years, has, however, been getting more involved in helping expand the chaplaincy movement — locally and in Israel. He said he welcomed the fact that his replacement is a rabbi equally attuned to the chaplaincy concept.
Kinzbrunner, a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, has lectured on issues of end-of-life care at its yearly conferences. He lives in Highland Park with his wife, Shira, and their six-month-old son, Zevi, and attends Congregation Ahavas Achim, where he has taught many classes on Jewish taught and philosophy. Like Glicksman, he was ordained by Yeshiva University, where he also received his bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in Jewish studies.
Before coming to the Wilf campus, he worked for more than four years as a chaplain and bereavement services manager with VITAS Hospice. He has lectured throughout New Jersey at nursing homes and adult facilities on community advocacy for hospice care and on Jewish end-of-life issues, ranging from the spiritual aspects of caring for families to the intricate medical ethic issues often facing patients.
Susan Harris, chief executive officer of the Wilf campus, said she was sure Kinzbrunner would touch many lives over the years to come, as Glicksman has done in his 19 years.
She welcomed Kinzbrunner, saying that he brings “a vast knowledge of hospice care plus a strong connection to our local community.” She said she found it fitting that he should be starting as the time comes “to usher in the new year 5771 and be a part of all the exciting new beginnings that the Wilf campus is planning to introduce over the next 18 months.”
Harris wished Glicksman “all the best in his retirement,” saying he “provided empathy and caring for everyone he has come in contact with. I believe that he has made a great impression and filled a great need in the lives of many. Everyone will certainly miss him.”
‘A listening ear’
Although a back ailment prevented him from leading services in the last few years, said Glicksman, he will be around to assist Kinzbrunner on the campus and will continue to counsel residents who find themselves needing care at Regency.
He said he is “very happy” about his successor. The choice of Kinzbrunner, he said, “feels almost like a tribute to the work I’ve done, that they understood that this is the kind of person that was needed.”
As far as a leisure-filled retirement is concerned, Glicksman will have none of it. In addition to his efforts to spread the message of chaplaincy, he is a supervisor-in-training under the auspices of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and a board member of the NAJC. A clinical member of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, he is board certified by the NAJC and the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.
Born in the Bronx, Glicksman studied at Yeshiva University, receiving his BA in 1965, his rabbinic ordination in 1968, and his MS in Jewish education the same year.
From 1970 to 1988, he served as religious leader of Congregation Etz Ahaim, a Sephardi congregation in Highland Park. During that time he was active in, and served as chair of, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Middlesex County and a number of other organizations.
Bruce A. Birnberg, the executive director of the hospice, said, “To say that Rabbi David Glicksman was the heart and soul of the Wilf campus…is an understatement. He will be terribly missed by those who worked with him, but especially by the residents, patients, and families whom he served with rabbinic affection.
“Rabbi Glicksman is a skilled clinician whom I’d compare to any social worker or psychologist…. Rabbi Glicksman is a mensch from the inside out.
“Rabbi Kinzbrunner,” said Birnberg, “is the perfect rabbi to build upon Rabbi Glicksman’s work. He brings vitality and enthusiasm as well as a wealth of experience serving elders. I wanted him on our team just a few moments after meeting him.”
As Glicksman finished his tenure, he said that working with the frail and the elderly has always been a calling for him. “People ask me if it isn’t depressing, working with people who are nearing the end of their lives, but it can be very gratifying.
“People in our society have a hard time acknowledging death, but that last chapter can be a time of openness and wonderful communication,” said Glicksman. “The key is to have a listening ear….”