December 14, 2011
Shelley Ventura-Cohen, Israel advocate, 74
Shelley Ventura-Cohen, clinical psychologist and tireless activist on behalf of Israel, died on Nov. 30 at 74.
A prominent clinical psychologist with a busy practice, Ventura-Cohen was also a lay leader at a number of Israel advocacy organizations. While on the board at American Jewish Congress, from 2002 to 2005, and during 17 years of involvement with AIPAC, Ventura-Cohen focused primarily on French and Turkish issues. She later served as board president of the Western region of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and from February through July 2011 as its executive director. On her last visit to Israel, in September, Ventura-Cohen met with members of the Israeli government and the Knesset on advocacy issues. Most recently, she was forming a new pro-Israel activist organization, The New White Rose Society.
“ ‘There is so much to do,’ she would say, and gather others to her home, which she used for decades as a meeting place … and was always a caring hostess,” said Ari Bussel, who worked with Ventura-Cohen on Israel-related matters. “It was never about Shelley, always about Israel, the Jewish community and about others, individuals,” he added. Susanne Reyto, who assumed the presidency of ZOA’s Western region when Ventura-Cohen became executive director, said she will best be remembered for her “love and devotion to Israel.”
Ventura-Cohen is survived by her husband of 55 years, Michael; daughters Gina and Jennifer; son Howard; and six grandchildren.