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Beth David Women: Orev Reena Katz, Jewish prison chaplain

Tuesday, 10 November, 2020 23 Cheshvan 5781

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM


Chaplain Orev Reena Katz haKohenet practices spiritual care with people who are incarcerated in the federal prisons of Southern Ontario, the traditional territory of the Anishnabek, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mohawk, Odawa and Mississauga of New Credit in Williams, Treaty 57 and 13 territories.  Orev is the Jewish Chaplain at Collins Bay, Joyceville and Beaver Creek Institutions, where she provides progressive, social justice-based Jewish education, and one-on-one counselling.  Orev is also the spiritual care provider for 2 front-line staff teams at the Prisoner AIDS/HIV Support and Action Network (PASAN). 

Chaplain Orev’s work in the prisons involves journeying with incarcerated people through restorative and transformative justice to find meaning, hope and accountability.  She works with people in all security levels and designations, including those diagnosed with a range of mental health, addiction and aging issues.  Like all incarcerated people, Orev’s clients struggle with grief, addiction, suicidality, and inter-generational trauma.  Orev’s experience and understanding of Judaism has been deeply transformed in community with Jews of Colour, poor and marginalized Jews who happen to be incarcerated.  She has also deepened her relationship to Observant Jews and their experiences of faith and tradition.  In addition to her frontline and support work, Orev is the Ontario Rep for her Union, Steelworkers Local 1976, representing national federal correctional chaplains.  She is also the Chair of the Correctional Chaplaincy Community of Practice with the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care.

During this current COVID crisis, Orev has been providing additional support to PASAN staff, through online group and one-on-one sessions.  When the federal correctional chaplains were shut out of the prisons since March 18th, Orev and her colleagues organized to put pressure on the National Chaplaincy Office to find creative solutions to the lack of service using the technology available in every prison.  Orev has also been volunteering with other grassroots decarceration organizations such as Think 2wice, and supporting the movement for Black Lives in various ways.


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Sat, 15 May 2021 4 Sivan 5781