Rabbi Jonathan Cohen
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 1998
Outlook and Goals
If I were to describe myself (on one foot) I would start by calling myself a Reconstructionist in the classical model of Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan. I am particularly fond of preparing and leading adult education study sessions. My greatest hope is to lead the congregation, united by the common goal of seeking guidance-but not easy answers-from our tradition to help build and maintain a community of mutual caring.
I enrolled in Rabbinical College because I enjoy learning about Jewish history and tradition, and teaching what I have learned to others, both Jews and non Jews. I can think of few feelings more exhilarating than that which occurs when I connect with the congregation or group of students. I am especially interested in learning and teaching about the various times when Judaism has renewed itself through contact with other civilizations. I am committed to a model of learning in which the teacher joins the students both in challenging the tradition - and in allowing themselves to be challenged by it. Whether in the pulpit or the classroom, I foresee making my greatest contribution in the rabbinate as a teacher.
I have had to discover for myself how the Jewish tradition can help a contemporary person navigate the uncertainty, anxiety, impotence, and disorder which characterize modern life. Judaism today is facing a greater challenge than at any time since the destruction of the Temple. Many of our people are secularly knowledgeable, but Jewishly ignorant. All too often, they feel that being Jewish is more of a problem than a privilege. If we fail to make Jewish civilization relevant to them, many of the brightest and most dynamic of them, and their children, will be lost for ever. I want to play an active part in keeping this from happening.