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.

High Holy Days 5782 & COVID-19 Update – August 25th

By |2021-08-26T10:05:53-05:00August 26, 2021|

Beloved Friends, As we approach the High Holy Days this year there are three words that I have aligned with the traditional words of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer. Towards the end of the prayer, we read: וּתְשׁוּבָה וּתְפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה מַעֲבִירִין אֶת רֹעַ הַגְּזֵרָה which I translate as: repentance, prayer, and tzedakah are actions that bring hope for a

High Holy Days 5782 Update – August 20th

By |2021-08-26T10:03:27-05:00August 26, 2021|

Beloved Friends, Tonight, we begin the second Shabbat of the Hebrew Month of Elul. As I have been reflecting upon the upcoming New Year and the challenges we face, the hope we nurture, Mussar has been a source of comfort and inspiration. Specifically, the middah, the character trait of Hitlamdut, “teaching yourself;” the aspect of our

Shabbat Ki Teitzei

By |2021-08-18T12:14:07-05:00August 18, 2021|

Beloved Friends,  I, like all of you, am feeling so very overwhelmed. The Delta variant of the Coronavirus has plunged the world ever deeper in the struggle to contain and ultimately emerge from this pandemic. Out West, fires continue to devour everything and everyone in their path. Another devastating earthquake has

Shabbat D’varim

By |2021-07-14T11:10:40-05:00July 14, 2021|

Beloved Friends, This week we begin reading from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is still deeply involved in the work of building a sacred community. The Israelites have struggled to understand God’s instruction and Moses’s leadership. As a consequence, there have been many missteps along their 40-year journey. Though our

Shabbat Korach

By |2021-06-10T19:06:21-05:00June 10, 2021|

Beloved friends,  Thou shalt not engage in binary thinking. This command, though not explicitly articulated in the Torah, is one of the most powerful mitzvot that speaks to me in this moment. Binary thinking places all people into one of two boxes. Binary thinking records every situation as black or white, good

Praying for Peace

By |2021-05-12T15:57:27-05:00May 12, 2021|

Beloved Friends, The news from Israel is terrifying and heartbreaking. From the protests and violence in Jerusalem to the hundreds of rockets unleashed against the entire country, the citizens of Israel are being terrorized, lives have been lost and many more have been injured. The escalation is frightening. I


By |2021-05-06T13:45:32-05:00May 6, 2021|

Beloved Friends, This week we read the last two portions of the book of Leviticus, Behar and Bechukotai. Leviticus is my favorite book of the Torah because of its essential message: if it can be broken, it can be repaired. This message of hope brings me strength as I face

No One Can Do Everything But Everyone Can Do Something

By |2021-04-21T09:58:07-05:00April 21, 2021|

Beloved Friends, I write to you as the jury in Minneapolis voted to find Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts for the killing of George Floyd. I bring this forward as an affirmation of the essential teaching of the book of Leviticus from which we are reading now: “That

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