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South Orange Rabbi to Mark 20th Anniversary at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel as Community Celebrates Two Decades of Progressive Change

Jewish Synagogues

Updated on Jun 5, 2013

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., June 4, 2013 - Rabbi Daniel Cohen, senior rabbi at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) of South Orange, N.J., will celebrate his 20th anniversary of service to the congregation in June. The community will hold celebrations with a special guest speaker on June 7 and a gala reception on June 15. In addition, TSTI has established the Rabbinic Endowment for Jewish Learning in Cohen's honor, in recognition of his passion for and contributions to progressive Jewish education.

"Rabbi Cohen has brought multiple innovations and a strong sense of community to TSTI during his 20 years of service," noted Gary Shedlin, the endowment chair. "This endowment will create a lasting legacy that reflects the Rabbi's longstanding commitment to Jewish education and highlight his emphasis on making high-quality Jewish education available to everyone, regardless of special needs or family income."

The endowment has already received commitments totaling over $725,000, a demonstration of the congregation's support and appreciation of Cohen's leadership and advancements:

A strong advocate for inclusivity, Cohen oversaw the renovation of TSTI's synagogue to remove physical barriers and provide access to all. The congregation was recently awarded an ABLE grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ to complete its final accessibility renovation, a new wheelchair ramp in the preschool. In addition, TSTI's religious school was one of the first in the area to provide one-on-one support for students with special needs.
Cohen has spearheaded the integration of technology into TSTI in innovative ways, such as computer-based religious school lessons and a computer lab in which students Skype with children in sister city Nehariyah, Israel. He has developed a TSTI-branded bar/bat mitzvah tutorial iBook and a multimedia, interactive Passover hagaddah.
Cohen has brought the Torah commandment to be stewards of the land through TSTI's green initiatives. In 2012, TSTI became the first Reform synagogue in the U.S. to attain certification for environmental leadership from Greenfaith, a nationally recognized interfaith environmental coalition.
Actively involved in efforts to promote a democratic and religiously tolerant society in the State of Israel, Cohen participates in the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and is a member of the Association of Reform Zionists of America.
Of his accomplishments within the community, Cohen said, "It is about the team. I work with really amazing people. The whole is much stronger than any one part."

Cohen's relationship with TSTI started during his rabbinical internship in 1992. After being ordained through the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1993, he joined TSTI as assistant rabbi and became senior rabbi in 1999. He also holds a master's degree in Hebrew letters from HUC-JIR, a Ph.D. in pastoral counseling from HUC-JIR and the Post-Graduate Center for Mental Health, and is a Certified Bereavement Facilitator. He earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University.

Based in South Orange, New Jersey, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel is a Reform congregation that welcomes all who wish to participate in and celebrate Jewish traditions and rituals. The temple draws members from many towns including South Orange, Maplewood, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston and West Orange. It is recognized throughout the region for its innovative programs, worship services, community events, and groups dedicated to a wide array of religious, social and educational interests. For more information, visit http://www.tsti.org/ or call (973) 763-4116.
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