Rabbi Shoshanah Devorah, newly ordained from Aleph: The Alliance For Jewish Renewal, has moved to Seattle from Boulder, Colo., to join the staff of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance as a chaplain working exclusively with transplant patients.
A joint venture of three of Seattle’s world- class medical facilities — the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center — the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the Hutchinson Center’s South Lake Union Campus provides outpatient cancer treatment to people from around the world. The facility also tries to meet the needs of a wide range of people through its pastoral program — from patients to their families and the center staff.
“We were looking for a chaplain who would be the best person in settings of all faiths,” said Stephen King, director of the Pastoral Care Department at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “We value spiritual diversity within our staff and we value different spiritual traditions. Shoshanah’s responsibilities are to be a chaplain to people of all faiths.”
Devorah received her doctorate in urban studies in 1972 and has held teaching posts at Stanford University and California State University at Hayward. She also administered the Rutgers program in Jerusalem and the Hebrew Union College program in Jerusalem while living in Israel from 1978 through 1995. Throughout her 17 years in Israel, Devorah studied and informally taught Jewish texts and history while becoming a state-licensed tour guide in 1983, winning the “Outstanding Guide For Jerusalem Award” in 1985. She has earned diplomas in acupressure and massage from the Reidman Institute in Tel Aviv and has traveled extensively, worldwide.
Her love of Israel and her love of nature continued to develop as the teacher, turned guide, turned spiritual seeker, eventually found herself in the center of a Jewish movement that spoke to her deepest dreams.
“I went to this kallah [Jewish Renewal Movement gathering] and I had the highest teaching experience of my life,” said Devorah, reminiscing about the group of women who led the first group she found in Israel. “It was like a sorority and I wanted to belong to this sorority.”
Responding to this new force in her life, Devorah followed her instincts and within a month found herself in Boulder, at the Naropa Institute, as the assistant to Rabbi Zalman Shachter, where she eventually received her rabbinic pastor and chaplaincy ordination in 1998.
“I had always felt deeply connected to Israel and I love serving all of the Jewish community,” said Devorah. “I received smicha (rabbinical ordination) last year and it was the most wonderful day of my life. I became certified in clinical pastoral education.