SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Rabbi Daniel Cohen has the unusual distinction of serving only one synagogue throughout his entire career, from rabbinic internship through this year, which marks the 25th anniversary of his rabbinic ordination and his 26th year at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel. The community celebration will begin with a gala on Thursday, May 31, at Maplewood Country Club, 28 Baker St. in Maplewood.
Cohen noted two unexpected career shifts that led him to TSTI in 1993.
“I had originally planned on becoming an archaeologist by pursuing a doctorate in Jewish studies and teaching, but something compelled me to apply to the seminary instead,” Cohen said in a press release. “Then, in my fifth year of rabbinic study, I intended on writing my rabbinic thesis and working at an organization rather than in a congregation. However, the placement director signed me up for an internship interview at TSTI. I was offered both positions, but I accepted the rabbinic internship — and here we are, 25 years later.”
Early into his internship, Cohen realized how much he wanted to stay at TSTI.
“I really liked that this community was willing to see how tradition can guide us in our decisions about who we want to be in the world, and its commitment to meeting people where they are on their Jewish journey,” he said. “It really stood out as the kind of Jewish community I would want to be a part of and serve.”
A new position of assistant rabbi was created and offered to Cohen. Three years later he became the associate rabbi before becoming TSTI’s senior rabbi in 1999.
In his honor, the congregation has started the TSTI Rabbinic Leadership Endowment. The fund will position TSTI to continue its tradition of leadership excellence and to be a home for the Reform movement’s most talented clergy.