Rabbi James D. Cohn
James D. Cohn is the Rabbi of Temple Israel in Charleston, West Virginia, where he has served since 2009. Rabbi Cohn has over three decades of experience in Reform Jewish pulpits in the Southeast. His major priorities within the congregation are responding to pastoral needs, and enhancing the congregation’s opportunities for Jewish education.
In the wider community, Rabbi Cohn is a frequent presenter and panelist at congregations and colleges. He is a member of the National Diversity Visiting Committee of West Virginia University. He is a co-founder of Compassionate Charleston. He has served as President of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center; as a member of the FestivALL Board; on the Steering Committee of OneKanawha (committed to pluralism and inclusiveness for all citizens); and as Adjunct Faculty at Marshall University.
Rabbi Cohn’s leadership in education and community enrichment is 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 on Consciousness. 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. 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 is
The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Consciousness
available as a Kindle ebook from Amazon.
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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