I’m a rabbi, teacher, interfaith chaplain, end of life doula, and poet. I have a healer’s spirit, a holistic bent, and a dedication to social, economic, and environmental justice. I live in Emeryville, CA with my beloved wife Ruth, with whom I’ve been happily partnered for over twenty-two years.
People often ask about my name. “What does it mean?” “Where is it from?”
Shifrah is a name I chose in my late forties as I was making my way towards rabbinical studies. For me, it represents a clarion call to beauty, justice and love in the service of life, a calling I seek to reflect in my service as a rabbi, interfaith chaplain, and end-of-life doula.
A midwife of moments. My name — Shifrah — invokes the ancestral lineage of my foremothers and forefathers. My father’s mother was named Shifrah. She is said to have been a robust, intelligent, and vivacious woman who cared deeply about justice for the oppressed. She and my grandfather raised two strong, independently-minded daughters and a kind and caring son. Taking the name Shifrah pays homage to those ancestors.
Shifrah was a midwife in the Torah. I midwife moments, showing up to witness, guide, accompany, and ease the way through important moments in people’s lives.
Beauty, poetry, and language. Linguistically, Shifrah is associated with beauty and clarity. The word shifrah also contains the same root letters as the word shofar, the ram’s horn we ritually use to call us back to our best selves.
Justice and love. Sometimes I listen deeply and intently; other times I speak out boldly. I help individuals, groups, and communities heal from personal, collective, and ancestral trauma.
So if you’re wondering how my name came to be Shifrah, well, how could it be anything else?