At Northwell Health, we strive to create a diverse and inclusive work environment, where all our team members are supported. The Northwell Health Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) connect our team members to create a unified and respectful workplace.
This month, we connected with Jewish Bridges BERG co-chair and founder Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox; director of spiritual services, and co-chair Michelle Teitelbaum, nurse practitioner (NP), to reflect on the month and the impact the Business Employee Resource Groups had on their career journey.
Tell us about your career journey at Northwell.
Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox (HF): In 2017, I was offered a per-diem position as an associate chaplain at North Shore University Hospital. Two months later, I became the full-time staff chaplain and started taking advantage of leadership training programs, mentorship opportunities and online courses to grow both professionally and personally in my role. In 2019, I was promoted to the director of spiritual services, where I am thankful every day to be blessed with this exceptional opportunity and to advance the highest standards of patient-centered spiritual care.
Michelle Teitelbaum (MT): I started working as a nursing attendant at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream (LIJVS) in 2017 while finishing nursing school. Upon graduation, I joined the emergency department nurse fellowship program at LIJVS and continued to work there for almost five years as a registered nurse. During this time, I became a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and became active in various committees within the hospital. Through the Northwell tuition reimbursement program, I graduated from Hofstra’s Northwell School of Nursing in 2022 as an adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, before I moved to Long Island Jewish Medical Center as a nurse practitioner on the medicine ACP team.
Why do you think it is so important for Northwell to have Bridges BERGs, like the Jewish Bridges BERG?
HF: An essential purpose of the Bridges BERGs is to create a network of team members who are proud of their individual identities and are passionate about cultural, racial, and religious diversity, as well as relationship-building through understanding. The BERGs have given me a voice to drive strategies that can impact our organization and foster a greater awareness of Jewish beliefs and practices, holiday observances, kosher dietary requirements and cultural sensitivities, I worked with the Center for Equity of Care to help start the Jewish Bridges BERG and have been serving as one of its co-chairs ever since.
MT: The Northwell Health Bridges BERGs are part of a truly amazing organization that supports, treasures and honors diversity among its team members. We all have so much to learn from one another. As a BERG member and co-chair, I have become more educated on the various cultures of my colleagues, as well as our patients. It has given me the opportunity to relate to patients and their families on a deeper level, which is extremely beneficial in providing patient-centered care.
What was the theme of this year’s Jewish American Heritage Month? What does that theme mean to you?
HF: We chose the central theme of “Shared Experience” to celebrate this year’s Jewish American Heritage Month. During the month of May, the Jewish Bridges BERG has hosted a variety of meaningful and impactful events to highlight the experiences of our ancestors, including how they helped build America to the shared experiences minority groups face in America. We held a meaningful Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial program, interviewing Northwell team members who shared their family’s tragic Holocaust experiences, produced a touching Northwell BERG Holocaust solidarity video, where every BERG participated in uniting against antisemitism and provided information that counters prejudice and hatred. Finding opportunity to educate Northwell team members regarding the diversity of our colleagues and of the patient populations we care for is what drives this thematic year-round for us.
MT: The Jewish Bridges BERG hosts events throughout the year, mostly surrounding the Jewish holidays, to celebrate both religion and culture. In celebration of both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month and Jewish American Heritage month, the Jewish and Asian Bridges BERGs co-hosted a culinary celebration event. We will be ending the month with a webinar where we focus on hearing from our BERG members about their career journeys at Northwell and will be participating in the Celebrate Israel Parade.
At Northwell, we stand together to embrace the understanding and support of the cultural and spiritual values and beliefs of our fellow team members and the communities we serve. Learn more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion.