Rabbi James D. Cohn
Photo by N. David Stern
Rabbi Jim Cohn began serving Temple Israel in 2009, bringing with him over three decades of experience serving Reform pulpits in the Southeast. His major priorities within the congregation are responding to pastoral needs, and enhancing the congregation’s opportunities for Jewish education.
Within the wider community, Rabbi Cohn was President of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center in 2011-2012. He has also served as a member of the FestivALL Board, the OneKanawha Steering Committee (committed to pluralism and inclusiveness for all citizens), and the Marshall University Adjunct Faculty. He is a frequent presenter and panelist at HospiceCare, as well as at colleges and congregations in the area.
Rabbi Cohn’s leadership in education and community enrichment are illustrated in projects hosted at Temple Israel and benefiting the public, such as singer/songwriter Jill Sobule’s concert, physicist Brian Greene’s visit, and the Julian Jaynes Society conference scheduled for June 2013 at Temple Israel. Rabbi Cohn has taught classes open to the public on Jewish subjects, as well as on multidisciplinary views of the points of contact between religion and law, philosophy, psychology and medicine.
Rabbi Cohn enjoys presenting workshops and seminars on Jewish beliefs and practices, conducting Institutes on Judaism, and joining with others in creative thought and dialogue on interfaith relations, social justice, and community visioning.
Rabbi Cohn received his B.A. in Humanities at New College of Sarasota, and his Master’s Degree and Ordination at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, where he earned the Simon Lazarus Prize for highest academic achievement in the graduating class. He is a graduate of the Diversity Leadership Academy and offers diversity training programs for congregations, schools, businesses and communities.
Rabbi Cohn’s major published work - The Minds of The Bible: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Consciousness.
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A Message from the Rabbi
I count myself very fortunate to serve a congregation whose vision and practices are so parallel to my own. Throughout its rich history, Temple Israel has valued education, inclusiveness, positive community involvement, and a deep commitment to a Reform identity within a broader Jewish context. I am proud to help represent the Temple’s heritage and aspirations.
My relationship with Temple Israel offers me the best of what any good relationship offers: to teach, and to be taught; to inspire and to be inspired; to love and to be loved. Wendie and I are grateful recipients of that love, and we seek to return it to our Temple family in equal measure.
Restless in all ways, I’ve experimented with novel approaches to congregational education, ritual observance, and communal involvement. The congregation has not only supported me in these efforts, but has encouraged me. I am thankful for the generosity of spirit that makes this congregation so warm and welcoming.
It’s gratifying to live in Charleston for many reasons. Certainly one of those reasons is that people here cherish religion and the interplay of religious organizations, and work together to provide a host of social, civic, and academic resources. A prominent example of that encouragement is the Bertie Cohen “Rabbi’s Invitational Series” project, which has enabled me to bring people and events to Charleston to enrich our congregational family’s life and the life of our community. I appreciate – and I am humbled by – such expressions of confidence in my efforts to think and act in ways that are thoughtfully creative.
I’m confident that the bonds of friendship and affection that join us together will be mutually nurturing, and also enduring. How wonderful to be part of this congregational family.
Jim Cohn, Rabbi