Mind Body and Soul

by Josh Kerr | Apr 14, 2023


In 2021, the JFM provided a grant to the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre for a Spiritual Care Aid.

“I know how important spiritual care is in our type of setting,” says Laurie Cerqueti, Simkin Centre CEO. “For our residents, our families, and our community.”

Since she took over the CEO role, Laurie’s thoughts have been directed to ‘How can we serve our people even more than we are now? How can we make this bigger and better?’

This sparked the idea that someone should be brought in to look at what they were doing regarding spiritual care to see where gaps and opportunities lay to develop the program.

The Simkin Centre hired Rabbi Matthew Leibl as the person to fill the role, someone Cerqueti thinks will be a perfect fit for what they’re hoping to do.

Beginning in April, immediately after Passover, Rabbi Leibl will first spend time getting to know the residents, their families, and the staff at the Simkin Centre while looking at the processes and programs currently in place regarding spiritual care.

“As I spoke with Matthew about this opportunity, we see it as an opportunity to make a significant difference for the residents and their families,” says Cerqueti.

Initially the timing was not right. With two young sons at home, Matthew was not looking to begin working again until 2023. But knowing that he was the right person for the role, the Simkin Centre deferred the project and the grant to wait for Matthew to be available.

This interaction with the Simkin Centre is not Rabbi Leibl's first. He has been involved with the Simkin Centre for over 15 years, first working there at age 21. That year, he did concerts three times per week for the residents.

“I found that the music and performing was an incredible way to connect with the people there,” says Rabbi Leibl.

He recalls a story from that time frame where he was performing Oseh Shalom, and one resident who had been, to that point, without her memory and less present, began to mouth the words along with him. The song helped her break through what she had been dealing with.

“That moment was truly a game changer for me. I’m so excited to be able to give back to a place that helped people in my own family and was a great place for me while I was figuring out my way many years ago,” says Rabbi Leibl. “Simkin is such a special place, and what they’re doing there is awesome.”

The Foundation is proud to support what we are sure will be an incredibly powerful and positive addition to the programming at the Simkin Centre.