Ronen Shacham of Decatur, the director of behavioral health at AbsoluteCARE, a visiting lecturer at Georgia State University and a clinical health psychologist working with HIV-positive patients, died from a brain aneurysm on Friday, June 9, 2017, at age 44.
Shacham was born in Atlanta on Oct. 27, 1972, to Israeli immigrants Nurit Shacham and Moti Shacham (z”l). His family was among the founders of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell. He attended Greenfield Hebrew Academy (now Atlanta Jewish Academy) and graduated from the University of Georgia.
Growing up, Shacham played basketball, tennis and soccer at the Jewish Community Center. He worked at Camp Barney Medintz. He frequently traveled to Israel to visit family and lived there in his early 20s.
His sister, Karen, said Shacham’s deep love of Judaism was something he passed on to his two children.
After working in the corporate world, Shacham at age 30 pursued a doctorate in psychology at Yeshiva University in New York. He was an empathic listener who showed great interest in getting to know people on a deeper level.
His brother, Yaniv, who was often mistaken as his twin, said about Shacham: “He was a leader. We didn’t just chat; we spoke about feelings and emotions. He was a great sounding board.”
Shacham met his wife, author Zoe Fishman, on a New York subway train. After a whirlwind romance, they married eight years ago. They moved to Atlanta after his father’s death in 2011.
“I was pregnant with our first child, and we didn’t want to be in New York anymore,” she said. “Ronen had finished his Ph.D., and we wanted to be close to family. It was time.”
Shacham was known to friends and family as a lover of music and dancing. He incorporated both into daily life. Upon his arrival home from work, he turned the drudgery of dinner, bath and bedtime into a dance party. He played music and danced around with his children, ages 5 and 2.
His enthusiasm for music stemmed from his parents, who were always playing records and listening to 1970s rock, rhythm and blues, and show tunes. One of Shacham’s first concerts was the Jackson Five Victory Tour show at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1984. He grew to love reggae artists Alpha Blondy, Lee Scratch Perry and King Tubby.
The Shacham family is thankful for the Intown Jewish Preschool community, where the boys attend school and camp.
“There was no Jewish holiday he didn’t love. We celebrated Shabbat every week. It was a joy for him to see Ari excited about religion,” said Zoe, noting that the boys called their father Abba and her Ima.
Shacham is survived by his wife, Zoe Fishman Shacham; his sons, Ari Mordechai and Lev Sidney; his mother, Nurit Shacham; his brother, Yaniv Shacham, and his wife, Melissa; and his sister, Karen Shacham, her wife, Michelle Putnam, and their daughter, Lior.