When Rabbi Shohama Wiener began her service at Temple Beth-El of City Island in 2002, she brought with her the fruits of two decades of leadership in the Jewish world. As an author and 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 non-denominational Academy for Jewish Religion, first as Dean and then President. As the first woman to lead a rabbinic seminary in all of Jewish history, Rabbi Shohama helped AJR flourish and inaugurated a new era in trans-denominational rabbinical education.
In 2004, just two years after starting in the City Island pulpit, Rabbi Shohama was named Rosh Hashpa’ah: Head of Spiritual Direction for the ALEPH Ordination Programs, a trans-denominational “seminary without walls” that trains Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors to serve communities whose focus is Jewish spirituality. Within ALEPH, Rabbi Shohama founded HASHPA’AH, a pioneering training and ordination program for Jewish spiritual directors (counselors). Today Rabbi Shohama serves on ALEPH’s Academic Vaad (council) and in an expanded Rosh Hashpa’ah role as Head of Spiritual Direction for the ALEPH Board, staff and programs.
Formerly on staff at www.reclaimingjudaism.org, she continues to work with Reclaiming Judaism Press, most recently as co-editor of Seeking and Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Guidance and Development, and the forthcoming collection, “The Wisdom of Reb Zalman.”
Rabbi Shohama is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She earned her rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion, and her D.Min. degree from New York Theological Seminary. Rabbi Shohama also received smicha (ordination) as a mashpi’ah ruchanit (spiritual director) from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
At the core of Rabbi Shohama’s life is her large and extended family. She is married to Alan Dattner, a holistic dermatologist, musician and spiritual teacher. In their blended family, they delight in four wonderful adult children and their partners, and six much loved 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 brought more lasting goodness and happiness into the world.”