We sat down with the LA native and father of 4 to learn more about him and his path to Cedars-Sinai.
Q: What brought you to Cedars-Sinai?
Rabbi Weiner: I fell into it, actually. Rabbi Meir, who was the rabbi here for 30 years, was in failing health. He was a member of the synagogue where I was an assistant rabbi, and my head rabbi asked me to come help out at Cedars-Sinai. I was covering for him 10 hours a week and I really enjoyed it.
In rabbinical school, we had to do a rotation in a hospital. In my evaluation at the end, I actually wrote that I didn’t want to be a chaplain. But once I came here, it was totally different, and I fell in love with it.
“Sometimes there are different goals and values between patients and their medical staff; we help address those issues by ensuring good communication between the teams.”
Q: What’s a typical work day like for you?
Rabbi Weiner: That’s what I like about this job—there is no typical day. I spend time visiting patients, listening to them, providing blessings and council, and I help with end-of-life matters.
I also participate in a lot of ethics consultations for patients and their care teams.
Sometimes there are different goals and values between patients and their medical staff; we help address those issues by ensuring good communication between the teams. This could mean explaining religious views to the medical staff; other times it means explaining medical realities to patients and their families.
Q: What do you do when you’re not working?
Rabbi Weiner: I like to run. It’s really good stress relief. I recently completed my first half marathon, and I’m working my way up to a full marathon. I’m also working on a doctorate in bioethics.
Q: What inspired you to become a rabbi?
Rabbi Weiner: In college at Cal State Monterey Bay, there wasn’t much Jewish life. There weren’t any Jewish clubs or rabbis nearby. However, it was a very activist-type of campus; everyone had a cause and wanted to make the world a better place. I kind of became the rabbi on campus, and it inspired me.
Q: Where is your favorite place to travel?
Rabbi Weiner: Israel. I lived there for a year and spent another summer there, and I’ve visited 6 other times.
Q: What’s your TV guilty pleasure?
Rabbi Weiner: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I watch UCLA basketball and football, which is usually a nice diversion—but sometimes a bit frustrating. (It would be much more frustrating if I was a USC fan though!)
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a rabbi?
Rabbi Weiner: I wanted to be an architect in high school, but now I think I’d be a city planner. Sometimes when I go for walks or drive around town, I think about how I could do it differently to make the city work better.