When Rabbi Shohama Wiener began her service at Temple Beth El of City Island in 2002, she brought the fruits of decades of leadership in the Jewish world. As author, editor, academician, composer of contemporary Jewish liturgical and spiritual music, and pioneer in the field of Jewish spirituality, Rabbi Shohama blends all of these skills in joy-filled and visionary service to the cause of Jewish renewal.
From 1986 to 2001, Rabbi Shohama led the pluralist Academy for Jewish Religion, first as Dean and then President. As the first woman to lead a rabbinic seminary in Jewish history, Rabbi Shohama helped AJR flourish and inaugurated a new era in trans-denominational rabbinical education.
From 2002-2017, Rabbi Shohama served as Rosh Hashpa’ah (Head of Spiritual Direction) for the ALEPH Ordination Programs, a “seminary without walls” that trains rabbis, cantors and rabbinic pastors focusing on Jewish spirituality. Rabbi Shohama founded HASHPA’AH, a pioneering training and ordination program for Jewish spiritual directors (counselors). Rabbi Shohama also served on ALEPH’s Academic Vaad (council) and Head of the Spiritual Direction Faculty. In 2019, Rabbi Shohama rotated off the Spiritual Direction Faculty and announced her intention to transition as Rabbi Emerita effective December 1, 2019.
Formerly on staff at Reclaiming Judaism, Rabbi Shohama continues to work with Reclaiming Judaism Press in an editorial capacity. She served as co-editor of Seeking and Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Guidance and Development and The Wisdom of Reb Zalman – both published by Reclaiming Judaism.
Rabbi Shohama graduated from Wellesley College (B.A.) and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (M.Ed.). She earned her rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion, and her doctorate from New York Theological Seminary (D.Min.). Rabbi Shohama also earned personal smicha (ordination) as mashpi’ah ruchanit (spiritual director) from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l.
At the core of Rabbi Shohama’s life is her intimate and extended family. She is married to Alan Dattner, a holistic dermatologist, artist, and avid harmonica player. In their blended family, they delight in four wonderful adult children, their partners, and six grandchildren.
When asked for a quote, Rabbi Shohama replied, “At the end of the day, the question is whether I made people feel valued and nurtured, and whether I helped them manifest love, joy, and goodness – God’s greatest qualities.”