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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Rachel Cowan

May 29, 1941–August 31, 2018

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Rachel Cowan until we are able to commission a full entry.

Rachel Cowan, Rabbi and leader in Jewish healing.

Courtesy of Rachel Cowan and the Waters of Eden, San Diego Community Mikvah and Education Center

As one of the founders of the Jewish healing movement, Rachel Cowan blended modern holistic medicine and counseling with traditional Jewish rituals and prayers to help change how people responded to illness. Ordained as a Reform rabbi in 1989, Cowan joined a group of women who wanted to create spiritual resources for people struggling with illness and crisis. Through the group’s efforts, Cowan helped create healing centers around the country that offered new prayers for patients and doctors, ritual baths, support groups, and visits to the sick. With Nancy Flam, another founding member of the healing movement, Cowan built the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, where Cowan was executive director for seven years. She was named one of the “Forward 50” twice and in 2010 was chosen as one of the Forward’s 50 most influential women rabbis. She also authored two books, Growing up Yanqui, about her work with the Peace Corps, and Mixed Blessings: Untangling the Knots in an Interfaith Marriage.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rachel Cowan." (Viewed on March 22, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/cowan-rachel>.


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