Madrasa-Midrasha | Art & Creativity in Spiritual Care / Chaplaincy

Wednesday, February 16th 2022, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Online Event, 2400 Ridge Rd Berkeley, CA 94709

This special Madrasa-Midrasha event stems from the work of two MA students at the GTU, Mia Trachtenberg and Sakinah Alhabshi, who were awarded a Haas Student Research Grant in 2021. The event focuses on how Chaplains use art and creativity in their work with guest speakers Taqwa Surapati, Cancer Care Chaplain at Stanford Health Care, and Amy Shoemaker, Director of Operations for the Covid Grief Network and Relief Chaplain at Stanford Health Care.


From the event organizers: "Our research focused on two main areas: how Chaplains used art and creativity in engaging with care-seekers, as well as how they leaned on it to cultivate their own self-care and resilience. While some of our findings showed how Chaplains directly connected to their Jewish and Islamic traditions through Hebrew song, melodious recitation of the Qur’an, appreciation of the Creator and Creation (nature-based reflection, poetry, etc.), other explorations of art and creativity were more spacious in nature – playing creative games, water-color expressions of their inner emotional and spiritual state, free-flow and prompted prose/poetry writing. A notable value we realized was that when artistic expressions were facilitated by a Chaplain, in a non-judgmental, accepting and spiritually-reflective approach, it seemed to allow for more freedom and creative empowerment for the care-seeker. Join us as we converse on this topic with two Chaplains and experience how they leverage on art and creativity in their self-care and profession."

For more info including a video on this project, please visit the 2021 Haas Student Research Grant webpage.



Originally from Indonesia, Taqwa has been a Bay Area resident since 1998. She started visiting and providing spiritual care to patients since 2004. Currently Taqwa serves as Cancer Care Chaplain at Stanford Health Care, supporting Oncology, Hematology and Blood Marrow Transplant (BMT) patients and their families. Taqwa has a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from GTU in Berkeley, and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She is also on the board of Ziyara Muslim Spiritual Care. Taqwa’s first degree was in Architecture from Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia. She worked as an architect there, and as an interior designer for hotel rooms and banquet halls for Singapore’s prominent Orchard Road hotels. From these experiences Taqwa continues to create space for beauty; physically and metaphorically. Her philosophy was to appreciate beauty and to gain strength from it. Taqwa is passionate about End-of-Life care and Palliative Medicine. She values compassionate care through human connection and believes that the work that she does is an expression of gratitude for Allah the Majestic One. She’s blessed with family members who know and support her well: her husband, two sons and a daughter-in-law.


Amy is a listener, a learner, and a lover of life’s small joys. She is the co-founder and Director of Operations for the COVID Grief Network and has spent the past three years serving the Stanford Health Care hospital community, first as a Spiritual Care volunteer, then as a Chaplain Resident, and now as a Relief Chaplain. She holds an MS from Stanford University's Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering and is currently pursuing an MDiv at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Amy's spiritual homes include her Jewish and Buddhist communities, along with natural spaces big and small that ignite wonder and gratitude. She also loves mornings, books, and tea, especially all together.



Center for Jewish Studies 

Mia is a Berkeley Native. She graduated from Berkeley High School and California College of the Arts with a BFA in art and writing. Mia is currently pursuing her MA in Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union. “I was drawn to GTU's inclusive and open minded environment. I am not deeply religious but spiritually and culturally Jewish. The opportunity to learn pastoral care amongst people of all faiths is a very exciting opportunity and I am exceedingly grateful.”


Center for Islamic Studies and the Interreligious Chaplaincy Program 

Sakinah was born and raised in Malaysia. She pursued an Advanced Diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, as well as classical Islamic education in Malaysia, Yemen and Indonesia. Sakinah is currently a candidate in the MA in Islamic Studies and Interreligious Chaplaincy Program at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Sakinah's first degree was a BA in Environmental and Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, IL (2004) after which she worked in the Malaysian national oil & gas company for over a decade based in Borneo, Sudan and Italy. Sakinah's second stint in the USA began in 2019 when she returned for professional chaplaincy training at Stanford Health Care, completing six units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), with a fellowship in Intensive Care. Sakinah is also on the board of Ziyara Muslim Spiritual Care which provides training to healthcare professionals and religious leaders internationally; and she is a mentor to CPE learners in the Association of Muslim Chaplains, North America.


We would like to thank the Walter & Elise Haas Fund for the generous support of the Madrasa-Midrasha Program at the GTU.

This event is online only