About Rabbi Dayle
I first entered the land of the very old while I was at college. Friends invited me to join them in leading a Shabbat service in an “old age home.” I was immediately captivated by things in this unfamiliar environment that were magical and rare.
I loved the way that the prayers and melodies brought joy to both the elders and to me and my fellow students. I adored their colorful stories. I felt blessed to be surrounded by sages who were had broad and deep perspective. In many respects, I have never left that sublime terrain; I have dedicated my career to mining the Torah of aging—from elders themselves, and from Jewish teaching–and to sharing that wisdom.
My dream is to empower all of us to find—and give—blessing as we grow older. I’ve been pursuing this dream for the past 30 years as:
- Spiritual care professional: board certified by Neshama Association of Jewish Chaplains; founding director, chaplaincy services, Philadelphia Geriatric Center; trainer and mentor of clergy from all streams of Judaism
- Rabbi: inspiring worship leader; innovative ritual facilitator; creative interpreter of classic Jewish wisdom in a contemporary context. I am thrilled to be serving as High Holy Day Cantor and Interim Rabbi of Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City in Philadelphia for 2019-20.
- Teacher: faculty, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1989-2011), mentor to rabbis, chaplains and clergy from all streams of Judaism; consultant to professionals and organizations
- Social innovator: founder, Hiddur: The Center for Aging and Judaism of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; founding director of chaplaincy services, Philadelphia Geriatric Center; founding co-director, CONNECT, 92nd Street Y, NYC. Listed among 2008 Forward 50; and 2010 Sisterhood 50; winner, 2011 Religion, Spirituality and Aging Award, American Society on Aging
- Spiritual guide: participant in think tank on spiritual direction and member of founding spiritual direction team, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; spiritual director to individuals and families on the journey of later life and end- of-life medical decision-making. Adjunct faculty member, Morei Derekh Spiritual Direction Training Program.
- Writer: author, Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife (Jewish Lights, 2015), Jewish Visions for Aging: A Professional Guide for Fostering Wholeness (Jewish Lights, 2008); editor, Jewish Pastoral Care: A Practical Handbook from Traditional and Contemporary Sources (Jewish Lights, 2nd edition, 2010). Published over 40 articles in journals and periodicals
The elders I have accompanied have taught me that we can find wholeness amid brokenness, and liberation amid constraint. They have shown me that all of us can grow as we grow older.
I believe that every Jewish person is born carrying a treasure chest—Jewish wisdom, practice and community. At any time, we can choose to open the chest and to draw from it tools for navigating the beautiful and terrible, rocky and exalting terrain of later life.
Through Growing Older, my professional practice, I am honored to share these riches with individuals, professionals and communities–and to help point those from other traditions, or no traditions, to the wellsprings of their own spirituality.
Read an article I wrote called Lessons from the Journey of Aging, published in Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture.