Rabbi Paul F. Cohen, D.Min., D.D., has served as Temple Jeremiah’s Senior Rabbi since 2000. A Chicago native, he considers his profession meaningful because so much of what he does involves teaching and learning. He enjoys creating moments of connection at Temple Jeremiah by teaching in both informal and formal settings, and through “just living life.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa, where he studied biology and comparative religion. After college, Rabbi Cohen continued to feed his zest for learning by receiving his Master of Arts and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, which in 2015 awarded him a Doctor of Divinity honorary degree celebrating his 25 years in the rabbinate. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Bangor Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine, in May 2001. He is also a graduate of the Kellogg Management Education for Jewish Leaders program at Northwestern University. In 2016 Rabbi Cohen became a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
While in Cincinnati, Rabbi Cohen met his wife, Cathy, and together, they moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as the assistant and then associate rabbi of Ohef Sholom Temple.
Throughout his career, Rabbi Cohen has strived to help his congregants feel deeply connected to community, Judaism and Jewish life, and for each person to feel inspired to do “Tikkun Olam” to make the world better for everyone. He strengthened this philosophy through years of taking on various social, economic and political causes.
Politically and communally active, Rabbi Cohen has accepted invitations to offer testimony before state legislative committees. He has served on numerous community boards of directors, including as founding president of the South Hampton Roads Campaign for the Homeless; president of the Greater Portland Interfaith Council; founding member of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination; founding member and executive board member of the Maine Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Choices; founding board member of Family Promise of Chicago North Shore; former president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis; and a member of the Ethics Committee of the North Shore Senior Center.
Through his decades of rabbinical experience and community involvement, Rabbi Cohen has learned that “there’s always more to a story.” According to him, “Live your life from the perspective of abundance vs. scarcity. With scarcity, there’s always fear, and with abundance, there’s always possibility.”
Today, he serves on the Clergy Advisory Board for the Public Defender of Cook County in Illinois, and is immediate past-president of the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis.
Rabbi Cohen lives in Deerfield with his wife Cathy. He is the very proud, doting father of Jacob, Eli, Anna and Hope.