Rabbi Paul Cohen

About Rabbi Paul Cohen

Rabbi Paul F. Cohen, D.Min., D.D. is originally from Chicago. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Grinnell College where he studied biology and comparative religion. Upon graduation, he moved to Minneapolis where he worked for two years in a short-term residential treatment program for delinquent adolescents. Rabbi Cohen received his Masters of Arts and rabbinic ordination and the honorary degree, Doctor of Divinity, celebrating 25 years in the rabbinate in March 2015, from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he served as the student rabbi for the United Hebrew Congregation in Ft. Smith, Arkansas and the auxiliary chaplain at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Rabbi Cohen's rabbinical thesis was titled "Modes of Divine Communication: Some Aspects of the Rabbinic Views" which focused on some of the less conventional ways rabbis expect to send and receive communication vis a vis heaven. Rabbi Cohen was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Bangor Theological Seminary in May 2001. His dissertation is entitled "Digging Our Parent's Wells" and deals with congregational renewal. 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. Active on many community boards of directors, Rabbi Cohen was the founding president of the South Hampton Roads Campaign for the Homeless. Immediately prior to serving Temple Jeremiah, Rabbi Paul Cohen was the spiritual leader of Congregation Bet Ha'am in South Portland, Maine and served on the boards of the Jewish Federation, Cedars Nursing Home, the Equity Institute and the Cancer Community Center. He was the president of the Greater Portland Interfaith Council, a founding member of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination and the Maine Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Choices and sat on its executive board. Politically and communally active, Rabbi Cohen has been asked on several occasions to offer testimony before state legislative committees. Rabbi Cohen served as chair of the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of Olin-Sang Ruby Union Institute, he is President of the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis and is a past board member of the Interfaith Housing Center of the North Shore (now called Open Communities), was a founding board member of Family Promise of Chicago North Shore, served as President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and is a member of the Winnetka Interfaith Council, served on the Ethics Committee of the North Shore Senior Center. He is a graduate of the Kellogg Management Education for Jewish Leaders program, sits on the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation Board of Directors and the Jewish Center for Addiction Advisory Board and serves on the Clergy Advisory Board for the Public Defender of Cook County. He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Do Not Stand Idly By While Your Neighbor Bleeds

By |2020-05-31T15:07:03-05:00May 31, 2020|

Beloved Friends, I, like you, am horrified by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. We have all been watching with horror as this killing sparked protests across the country that have turned violent warranting the call up of National Guard troops

Shabbat Naso

By |2020-05-28T10:42:21-05:00May 28, 2020|

Dear Friends, Today is Shavuot, the Festival during which we celebrate the giving and the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Shavuot is one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals outlined in the Torah when the Israelites were to gather all together at the Temple in Jerusalem (the other two

Rabbi Cohen Addressing URJ’s Summer Announcement

By |2020-05-01T11:50:14-05:00April 30, 2020|

Beloved Friends, I, like you, read with tremendous sadness the news from the Union for Reform Judaism that OSRUI, as well as all the other URJ summer programs, have been canceled. I know how difficult this decision was for our leadership. Camp played such an essential role in my Jewish identity

Shabbat Yitro

By |2020-02-15T21:40:44-06:00February 11, 2020|

Dear Friends, As I write to you this week, I just finished reading a very disturbing blog post about a Jewish woman of color’s experience at the most recent URJ Biennial held here in Chicago. She shared that throughout the event she was the target of countless racist comments. I

Shabbat Vayishlach

By |2019-12-11T16:51:50-06:00December 11, 2019|

Dear Friends, We live in a time of fear and anxiety. As Jews and members of the Jewish community, we are particularly attuned to the rise in antisemitism. On Wednesday, another horrific attack was unleashed upon a Jewish business, a Kosher market, in New Jersey. As we mourn with the

Shabbat Lech Lecha

By |2019-11-06T15:35:02-06:00November 6, 2019|

Dear Friends, I distinctly remember when I was a first-year rabbinical student in Jerusalem and learned that the Bible story about Abraham smashing the idols in his father’s shop was actually not a Bible story at all. I learned that this story does not appear in the Torah. This story

Shabbat KiTavo

By |2019-10-25T11:08:04-05:00September 17, 2019|

Dear Friends, The Torah portion for this week is called Ki Tavo, from the book of Deuteronomy. Ezra the Scribe, living in the time of the Second Temple (5th century BCE), ordained, according to the Talmud, that the blessings and curses recorded in this week’s Torah portion be read before

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