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Meet the Chaplain

Friday, 6 August, 2021 - 9:58 am

This week I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with one of our community’s lesser known assets, LCMC Heath System Chaplain, Rabbi Levi Partouche, who just completed his first year in New Orleans. I share some highlights of our dialogue.

MR: Please tell us about yourself.
LP: I was born in Montpellier, France, where my parents are the Rebbe’s Shluchim for many years. My schooling took me to Paris, New Jersey, Florida, Israel and Brooklyn. After marrying my wife Sarah (nee Ross), we joined the team of Shluchim in Montpellier for 3 years before moving to Jacksonville, FL, so I could enroll in a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Counselling) course and residency. There our son Mendel was born. Upon completing the residency in summer of 2020, I began to apply for jobs in the field. LCMC had an opening and offered me a position. Other offers came as well, but New Orleans, with its Jewish communal infrastructure, seemed to be the best fit.

MR: What are your duties with LCMC?
LP: As a member of the chaplaincy team, I rotate between the LCMC facilities (UMC, Children’s, Touro, West Jeff and others). The primary role is providing pastoral care and counseling to all patients, regardless of religious affiliation, and their families. I help Jewish patients navigate through the confusion of “end of life” issues. I have served as the Rabbi present to recite final prayers before death. I have helped facilitate a greater availability of Kosher food upon request. I am on call at least two nights a week. One particularly memorable event was dealing with a family crisis when a young man was brought in after being shot accidentally by his father. During the initial COVID surges, the hospital staff, including chaplains, often served as the connection between isolated patients and their families, helping them with phone calls etc. I was privileged to engage with several Jewish COVID patients in a very powerful way. 

MR: Sounds like a very busy schedule. Yet, I believe you have also expanded your reach beyond your official duties.
LP: I am a member of Chabad on Call (an association of Chabad Medical Chaplains). My wife and I try to serve in a ministering role to healthcare professionals and their families. We give out challah. We have them over for Shabbat. We host monthly picnics in the park. We have Jewish holiday events. I have also gone to other facilities in a volunteer capacity. On a visit to the VA Medical Center, I discovered that there was no Kosher food available. I successfully worked with dietary to change that. During the recent construction of the New Orleans Eruv, I lobbied Children’s Hospital to allow the use of some of their structures for the Eruv. The change to incorporate Children’s Hospital within the Eruv is in the works. This will allow parents visiting their children at the hospital on Shabbat to bring water or a baby carriage on the walk.

MR: How is your family adjusting to life in New Orleans?
LP: My wife Sarah has roots in New Orleans. Her father is a Tulane and Chabad House alum. She teaches at Slater Torah Academy, where our son is enrolled for the coming school year. We live in the wonderful Chabad Uptown community. We have developed many nice friendships and look forward to continuing life in this greater New Orleans Jewish community.

MR: Thank you very much for your time and best of luck with all of your endeavors.

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