Rabbi Douglas Kohn
Rabbi Douglas Kohn became the Rabbi at Temple Beth Jacob this summer of 2019, following the legacy of the Temple’s prior rabbinic leaders. He is eager to continue to cultivate the wonderful community, contribute to study and prayer, and help to make our Jewish lives fulfilling and meaningful. Moreover, Rabbi Kohn is eager to know all in our community – those who have been coming through TBJ’s doors for decades, and those who are just beginning to stick a toe over the threshold.
Previously, Rabbi Kohn served for five years as a rabbinic transition specialist. He led several such synagogues, including Temple Beth El in San Pedro, CA, Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, AL, one of the largest congregations in the south, Temple Shir Tikva, the anchor synagogue in Boston’s western suburbs, in Wayland, MA, and nearer to Newburgh, Rabbi Kohn served as Interim Rabbi of the Reform Temple of Rockland/Temple Beth Torah in Nyack, NY. Previously, he was Rabbi at Congregation Emanu El in San Bernardino/Redlands, CA from 2001 through 2014, where he steered the congregation through a relocation, capital campaign and construction program. Earlier, Rabbi Kohn served as Rabbi of Beth Tikvah Congregation in Hoffman Estates, IL, and as Associate and Assistant Rabbi at large congregations in Buffalo and Baltimore.
Concerned with social justice, community relations and Israel, Rabbi Kohn served for eight years on the Reform Movement’s National Commission on Social Action, and was a member of the National Board of ARZA – the Association of Reform Zionists of America. In 2005, Rabbi Kohn was an ARZA delegate to the 35th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, where he participated in deliberations on the future of Zionism, and he was on the ARZA slate for the recent World Zionist Congress in 2015. A speaker at national and regional conferences, especially on Israel matters, health, and teaching Hebrew, Rabbi Kohn also has taught “Judaism” and “The Holocaust” at local colleges.
Rabbi Kohn graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, in 1981, and received his Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College (Los Angeles) in 1985. Rabbi Kohn was ordained at the Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati) in 1987, from which he also received an honorary doctorate in 2012. He has published numerous articles in the press and Jewish scholarly and general periodicals in his academic interest, American Jewish history, and has written several feature series on his frequent travels to Israel and Europe.
After his diagnosis and treatment for cancer in 2004, Rabbi Kohn focused on writing and teaching about Judaism and health. His first book, on Judaism and cancer, was published in 2008 by URJ Press, Life, Faith, and Cancer: Jewish Journeys through Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery. Since then, Rabbi Kohn has traveled broadly to speak on the themes of the book, and to bring support to the Jewish and wider cancer communities. Also, Rabbi Kohn is a contributing author of the textbook, World Religions for Healthcare Professionals (Routledge Press, Oxford, 2009). Rabbi Kohn’s most recent volume, titled, Broken Fragments: Jewish Experiences of Alzheimer’s Disease Through Diagnosis, Adaptation and Moving On, was published by URJ Press (2012), and was nominated for the National Jewish Book Award.
Rabbi Kohn is the father of two children, Benjamin and Elena. He resides in Beacon, and is lovingly engaged to his fiancée, Susan R.S. Wertheim.