Rabbi Chaya Gusfield, ordained in 2006 through ALEPH, the Jewish Renewal Movement, has a long association with many Bay Area synagogues including her home community Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont California, where she serves as Emeritus spiritual leader, teacher, and Spiritual Director (Mashpi’ah Ruchanit). She served Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville for seven years with her beloved colleague Rabbi Dan Goldblatt as Assistant Rabbi and Principal of the Religious School.
Chaya loves our sacred Jewish texts and encourages us to engage in Torah study as a personal spiritual practice asking the question of how Torah is guiding us today. Her classes inspire and deepen those who attend.
She was Board Certified as a chaplain with the Association for Professional Chaplains (APC) in 2014. Rabbi Gusfield’s years of working as an interfaith chaplain in hospital settings make her a great resource for people who come from all walks of life. She served as the Jewish Chaplain for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for two years followed by serving as a Palliative Care interfaith chaplain at Kaiser Oakland/Richmond for seven years walking with people facing serious illness, often at the end of life.
Chaya’s partner, Judith, faces a terminal illness and Chaya has written and published about this experience. See her partner’s solo performance: Welcome to the Cancer Cafe. Also, see Chaya’s article about their experience and her advice to doctors on how to give difficult news.
Chaya has also written about the grief journey as well as reducing the stigma of suicide in the Jewish tradition. Prayer for Those Left Behind.
Chaya completed the Mercy Center Spiritual Direction training in 2001. For more than 19 years she has offered the delicious process of Spiritual Direction to people of all walks of life and ages whether or not they believe in God or participate in an organized religion. She is a member of Spiritual Directors International. You can find her directory listing with them here.
Chaya is one of the Spiritual Directors for the Jewish Spiritual Direction Program of HUC-JIR, Los Angeles, and is on the Mashpi’ah Faculty (Spiritual Director) of the ALEPH Ordination Program, serving rabbinical students and others on their journey as upcoming Jewish leaders.
For a taste of how she serves as a spiritual midwife, please read this post – What do you do. Incorporating writing, prayer, song, Jewish practice, and/or other creative expression is integral to her work.
Chaya works closely with Buddhist teacher and musician Eve Decker in offering rituals, workshops and worship services with a Buddhist and a Jewish focus that heal the spirit.