Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sharon L. Cohen, March 31, 2017

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Hello, our names are Hannah Thompson--

Segment Synopsis: This interview is being conducted by three students in WRD 112, interviewing Rabbi Sharon Cohen for the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Jewish Kentucky Oral History project.

Keywords: Jewish; Kentucky; Rabbis

00:00:49 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so to begin, when and where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen was born in Miami, Florida in 1969. She lived there with her family until she was 12 years old. Rabbi Cohen's mother is a Florida native, while her father is from Pennsylvania, but he moved to Miami at a rather young age. Rabbi Cohen's grandparents were both United States natives, but her great-grandparents came to the United States as Russian immigrants. During Rabbi Cohen's childhood, her mother was employed by numerous different jobs but worked mostly in the personnel department in a hospital. Rabbi Cohen's father was employed by a company that manufactured zippers.

Keywords: Employment; Immigrants; Miami, Florida

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Jewish families.; Miami (Fla.)

GPS: Miami (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 25.775278, -80.208889
00:03:24 - Family's involvement in the Jewish community

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Partial Transcript: Um, how were your parents involved within the Jewish community, and, like, how does that differ from your Jewish identity now, perhaps?

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen's parents laid a great foundation for her Jewish identity through their avid activity in the Jewish community throughout her childhood. Although Cohen's parents were raised with different ideas of religion, they were very involved in the Jewish community throughout Cohen's childhood. Cohen's mother was raised on the reform side of Judaism, while her father was raised more on the conservative end of the spectrum. Cohen has two brothers; however, one has passed away. Her deceased brother was not very involved in the Jewish community. As well, her older brother is not very involved in the Jewish community, but still celebrates the High Holy Days as well as Passover.

Keywords: Brothers; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Congregations; High Holy Days; Jewish identity; Kosher; Orthodox; Parents; Passover; Preschools; Reform; Siblings; Sunday school

Subjects: Chattanooga (Tenn.); Childhood; Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

GPS: Chattanooga (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.045556, -85.267222
00:06:43 - Choosing and attending colleges of Jewish heritage

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Partial Transcript: Um, to backtrack a little, you mentioned how, uh, growing up, you also inten--attended, like Jewish schools and all that. Um, where did you go to college, if you did?

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen attended Washington University in St. Louis for her undergraduate studies. Upon graduation, she attended the rabbinical school of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, which is now American Jewish University. She then did a year of her rabbinical studies in Israel. Rabbi Cohen's interest in attending colleges of Jewish heritage was initially sparked when Cohen was 12 years old and her family moved from Miami to Chattanooga. This move had a significant impact on her life as a Jewish individual because of the drastic changes she experienced in Jewish communal life. From this experience, Rabbi Cohen was inspired to attend a college of Jewish heritage so she could surround herself with other people her age experiencing the same events that she was. As well, having the opportunity to be surrounded by people that encouraged her to be more involved in the Jewish community had a high impact on her choice of colleges of Jewish heritage.

Keywords: Colleges; Pre-rabbinical; Rabbinical; Undergraduate

Subjects: College students--Religious life; Education, Higher; Higher education; Jewish children; Jews--Identity.

GPS: Washington University in St. Louis
Map Coordinates: 38.648, -90.305
00:12:08 - Experiences of anti-Semitism

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Partial Transcript: Um, so, you've been very involved within the Jewish community all throughout your life, and up to this point, have you had any experiences with anti-Semitism personally that you would like to share?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about experiences of anti-Semitism, Rabbi Cohen recalls an experience from her high school days in Chattanooga. A classmate of Rabbi Cohen's badgered her with the discriminating question of, "Well, what are you, a Jew?" Which Rabbi Cohen answered honestly. Even though this was an act of stereotyping, Rabbi Cohen did not take offense to it, but instead blamed it strictly on ignorance and cultural differences.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism; Cultural differences; Stereotypes

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.

00:14:49 - Childhood memories

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Partial Transcript: Um, do you have any other memories from growing up that you'd like to share, and perhaps happier ones?

Segment Synopsis: A vivid memory from Cohen's childhood was the move her family made from Miami to Chattanooga. This move, and the adjustments that came with it, enabled Cohen to develop skills she would need for her future in rabbinical life through the process of joining a new synagogue and community. As a child, Rabbi Cohen was never a part of a congregation that gave men and women equal rights to participate. The women of her congregation were never allowed to be rabbis, or even get onto the bimah. However, Rabbi Cohen did not let these experiences limit her dreams of being a female rabbi. Another childhood memory Rabbi Cohen reflects on was attending Jewish summer camp, which set the stage for her future as a rabbi by allowing Rabbi Cohen to see how people her age were already getting involved in the Jewish community at such a young age.

Keywords: Camp Ramah; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Conservative movements; Feminist views; Judaism; Miami (Fla.); Miami, Florida; Synagogue

Subjects: Chattanooga (Tenn.); Childhood; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish women; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

GPS: Chattanooga (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.045N, -85.309 W
00:20:01 - Early congregations as a rabbi

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Partial Transcript: All right. All right, so now that we've talked about your experiences growing up and in your higher education, let's talk a little about your professional life after college.

Segment Synopsis: After engaging in six years of rabbinical school, Cohen had finally completed the rabbinical program. At that point in her life, she wished to become a pulpit rabbi due to her love of Hillel. To begin this process, she then went through an interview process to find the right place for her to become a rabbi. Cohen was matched with a congregation located in Arizona, where her mentor also worked. Even though she loved the congregation that she worked for, the environment in Arizona was not one in which she enjoyed. Rabbi Cohen spent three years serving there before she moved to Lexington to accept a job at Ohavay Zion Synagogue.

Keywords: Jewish identity; Jobs; Lexington (Ky.); Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Rabbinical schools

Subjects: Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue, Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.998629, -84.471813
00:25:21 - The impact of ending her tenure at Ohavay Zion Synagogue

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Partial Transcript: Um, and in 2009, I ended my tenure. Um, the congregation was phenomenal in understanding why, and very supportive.

Segment Synopsis: In 2009, Cohen made the difficult decision to end her tenure at OZS. She had a great love for her congregation, but had to make a difficult decision for her well-being. Cohen then applied for the clinical pastoral education (CPE) program at the VA hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. After her year-long residency at the VA hospital, she realized she was in need of a new job.

Keywords: CPE Program; Clinical pastoral education (CPE); Jobs; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Tenure

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue
Map Coordinates: 37.998629, -84.471813
00:28:31 - Meeting her husband, Jeffery

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Partial Transcript: And, um, so I came back here, and around that time, as I was starting to do interviewing, uh, I met, online, my--Jeffrey, who became my husband--(laughs)--a year later, but.

Segment Synopsis: After returning to Lexington, Kentucky, Rabbi Cohen began online dating, and in the process, she met her now-husband, Jeffrey. Rabbi Cohen describes meeting him as luck due to the fact that it was solely based on the terms of her job location and timing. Similarly to Rabbi Cohen, Jeffrey grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Rabbi Cohen and Jeffrey bonded over the similarities in their childhoods of moving to and from cities that have great differences in their Jewish communities.

Keywords: Childhood; Dating; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Husbands; Jewish children; Relationships

Subjects: Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.); Jewish families.; Marriage

GPS: Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 26.133333, -80.15
00:29:29 - Working at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates

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Partial Transcript: And I ended up getting a position at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates as, uh, a f, um, a family support liaison.

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen applied and got a position at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) after ending her tenure at Ohavay Zion Synagogue. Her new job at KODA required her to act as a family support liaison where she assisted families in the decision-making process of donating their loved-ones' organs. Rabbi Cohen enjoyed her co-workers and the families she worked with tremendously, but this position was very mentally and physically draining. It was difficult for Rabbi Cohen to spend long hours of comforting families who had lost their loved ones and did not allow her to spend what she considered ample time with her newborn. Consequently, Cohen decided to end her employment at KODA and obtain a job that enabled her to spend more time with her family. After Rabbi Cohen left KODA, an opportunity arose at St. Joe as a chaplain. This job required her to lean on her previous CPE training. During this period, Rabbi Cohen also found out that she was pregnant with her second son, Joshua. Through her employment at St. Joe, she was able to be greatly involved in her children's lives while also remaining active in the Jewish community. Another job that Rabbi Cohen participated in during this time was the director of adult and youth education of Ohavay Zion Synagogue. Rabbi Cohen says she was grateful to have a job that allowed her to be able to spend much needed time with her children and husband.

Keywords: Family support liaisons; Jobs; Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA); Ohavay Zion Synagogue; St. Joseph Hospital

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.

GPS: Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates
Map Coordinates: 38.223784, -85.568897
00:35:16 - Factors contributing to her Jewish identity

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Partial Transcript: Since you were talking about the--your family, is there anything else you would want to share about that and how that factors into your Jewish identity?

Segment Synopsis: A significant factor that impacted Cohen's Jewish identity is her children. The choice she made to raise her children in Lexington instead of anywhere else is something that she is exceedingly thankful for due to its impact on her and her family members' Jewish identities. She describes the congregation at Ohavay Zion Synagogue in Lexington provided the support and help she needed to realize her personal and professional goals. They acted as an extended family and pushed her to believe that she can do anything despite her gender. In addition, living in the city of Lexington gave her the sense of not being a minority, but as a part of the diversity due to her religious beliefs, and was a significant contributor to her Jewish identity.

Keywords: Beliefs; Congregations; Diversity; Identity; Lexington, Kentucky; Minorities; Minority; Ohavay Zion Synagogue

Subjects: Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:39:16 - Being a rabbi in the south in the 2000s

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Partial Transcript: Alright. Well, to backtrack a little bit, what was it like being a rabbi in a midsize Southern town in the 2000s?

Segment Synopsis: Being a female rabbi during the early 2000s was a challenge not many took on. However, Rabbi Cohen fought the gender stereotypes to realize her personal and professional goals. During her time as a rabbi, she developed some of her dearest relationships. However, being a rabbi did come with some negative aspects. Being a public figure was a lot of pressure for Cohen and brought about many struggles for her. However, knowing that she helped everyone in the congregation in some shape or form brought peace to Rabbi Cohen during the hard times.

Keywords: B'nai Mitzvah; Bar mitzvahs; Bat mitzvahs; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Pseudo family; Southern; Torah

Subjects: Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue, Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.998629, -84.471813
00:46:25 - Later congregations as a rabbi

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Partial Transcript: What synagogue were you a rabbi at, and can you share some details of what it was like for that synagogue?

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen initially began her rabbinical practices at a congregation in Phoenix, Arizona. She acted as an assistant at this synagogue and was assigned specific programs, but was able to experience all aspects of a rabbinical career. Rabbi Cohen then moved to Lexington, Kentucky and began working at Ohavay Zion Synagogue. She served at OZS for nine years (2000-2009), as a pulpit rabbi. During her time at OZS, Rabbi Cohen conducted many weddings, Torah readings, conversions, funerals, and worked with the bat and bar mitzvah children. Most of all, Rabbi Cohen developed hundreds of relationships with the members of the congregation and grew to know each of them on a personal level in a unique way.

Keywords: Bar mitzvahs; Bat mitzvahs; Cassette tapes; Congregations; Conversions; Funerals; Kisharim; Lexington, Kentucky; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Phoenix, Arizona; Synagogues; Torah readings

Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Phoenix (Ariz.); Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Phoenix (Ariz.)
Map Coordinates: 33.45, -112.066667
00:50:18 - Challenges of being a female rabbi

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Partial Transcript: What were the--some of the greatest challenges you faced as a rabbi, specifically as a female rabbi?

Segment Synopsis: Despite the idea of gender equality not being accepted by many, Rabbi Cohen interacted mostly with individuals that did believe this way. In Rabbi Cohen's graduating rabbinical class, one third were women. Even though being a female rabbi is still not as familiar, it is not a great surprise. However, during Rabbi Cohen's childhood, female rabbis were few and far between. At Ohavay Zion Synagogue, Rabbi Cohen was welcomed and accepted by the majority of the community due to men and women having equal roles throughout the community. An event in particular that pushed the community to accept Rabbi Cohen was Oscar Haber's acceptance of her. Oscar Haber gave a quote to the Lexington Herald discussing how he believed that as long as she did her job, he would accept her. The releasing of this quote gave relief to many members of the congregation and allowed them to fully open their eyes and take in the greatness that Rabbi Cohen was doing.

Keywords: Acceptance; Anti-Semitism; Congregations; Egalitarian; Gender equality; Judaism; Ohavay Zion Synagogue

Subjects: Discrimination.; Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Sex discrimination against women; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

00:57:17 - Accomplishments and achievements at Ohavay Zion Synagogue

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Partial Transcript: I think we've gone into a bit of detail about this already, but what do you consider to be the biggest accomplishments or achievements of your rabbinic legacy at the OZS?

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Cohen felt her most significant accomplishments were the ones where she engaged with her community on a deeper level, including services, funerals, bar and bat mitzvah, and other ritually significant life-cycle events. She was very connected with the members of Ohavay Zion Synagogue and felt that developing a deeper relationship with the congregation she served was the most critical part of being a rabbi. Another achievement of Rabbi Cohen's was the increase in attendance to services. Throughout her time as a rabbi, Friday and Saturday services began to be more and more popular. As well, an active youth involvement was significant for Rabbi Cohen to establish. She strove to make the children of the congregation feel comfortable talking to her about their questions and worries.

Keywords: Achievements; Bar mitzvahs; Bat mitzvahs; Congregations; Engagement; Funerals; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Sabbath; Services; Success; Teen involvement

Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue
Map Coordinates: 37.998629, -84.471813
00:59:14 - Youth involvement at Ohavay Zion Synagogue

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Partial Transcript: Um, I think one of those achievements or successes was keeping those fifty-four--not all fifty-four--but keeping many of those kids involved in...

Segment Synopsis: Children and teen involvement was a huge focus of OZS leaders. Rabbi Cohen especially tried hard to keep them involved in the Jewish community. Cohen aimed to entice youth to stay involved with a mutli-pronged approach: kids' Shabbat, youth group, regional conventions, and more. This was the main focal point in her time as a rabbi. Her ability to get kids involved early and prioritize their religion encouraged many of the younger children to stay at OZS as they grew up. Cohen also describes how the synagogue must evolve and adapt to what is wanted/needed by the members. She strives to make every event a positive important experience and encourages others to get involved. Another focal point of her rabbinate was being with people as they passed away.

Keywords: Bar mitzvahs; Bat mitzvahs; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Rabbi Smolkin; Shabbat; Teenagers; Torah; United Synagogue Youth (USY) convention; Youth; Youth groups

Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

01:03:12 - Career as a Jewish educator and chaplain

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Partial Transcript: We've talked a little bit about your career after being a rabbi. Are there any other details you'd want to share about that? Being a Jewish educator or chaplain?

Segment Synopsis: As a Jewish educator and chaplain, Cohen was still able to use her experience as a rabbi but also try new professions. Cohen is the only Jewish chaplain in the area. She feels that she services everybody as a chaplain and is not restricted by religion. She is always educating and leading but now is able to do so in various environments.

Keywords: Chaplains; Jewish educators; Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA); Pulpits

Subjects: Jewish leadership; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

01:05:04 - Competing identities

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Partial Transcript: I did--I struggled with whether to wear my head covering, my kippah, out in those environments. That was a struggle for me.

Segment Synopsis: Cohen struggled with how to represent herself to others in various environments, such as professional work outside of being a rabbi. Certain religious clothing became a concern to wear but she was able to speak with others in the same position. Cohen sought advice from others who are in a similar position. She was not working at KODA in a religious way and therefore did not use her title of rabbi. In the beginning it presented many challenges, including losing the title of "Rabbi" she had worked hard for. She tends to be more comfortable in a professional Jewish environment where she can embrace her religion's culture freely. Out of a Jewish context, she often feels as though she is hiding her Jewishness during her professional life. She says her life feels compartmentalized though different identities can occasionally mix together.

Keywords: Chaplains; Federation; Identities; Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA); Kippah; Organ donation; Relationships with others; Religious garb

Subjects: Jewish leadership; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

01:07:37 - Being Jewish while working in a non-Jewish environment

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Partial Transcript: And, um, in my work at St. Joe, I'm--I don't either.

Segment Synopsis: After working in a Jewish environment for so long, Cohen found it difficult to transition to working in Veterans Affairs, a non-Jewish environment. She often did not disclose her Jewish heritage until someone else mentioned it. Cohen decided to separate her religious and professional life. Her life is compartmentalized but sometimes identities mesh together. It was also unusual for a female to be a chaplain. Cohen felt as though being a female was not as much as an issue in the Veterans Affairs environment as being Jewish was.

Keywords: Chaplains; Gender; Interfaith world; Jewish identity; Kippah; Male-centered; Narrow religious environment; St. Joseph Hospital; Veterans Affairs (VA)

Subjects: Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Women rabbis; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.032928, -84.523933
01:09:47 - Focus on raising Jewish children

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Partial Transcript: How do you hope to stay involved in the Jewish community in the future?

Segment Synopsis: While Cohen does still stay involved in the Jewish community, her young children are her main priority at the moment. Being a mom is her main focus at this point in her life. Her children are currently at young ages, both toddlers, and require much of her attention. She does still stay engaged in the Jewish community through volunteering, speaking, and other ways of contributing. She does music with the Sunday morning children's program and uses her skills in the community when she can. She has transitioned from running the programs to being in the pews with her children.

Keywords: Jewish community; Kids; Mothers; Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Parenting; Sabbaths; Teaching; Torah reading; Volunteering

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

01:13:01 - Dating and social life during her youth

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Partial Transcript: I love education. I would love to see more adult education here in the city, and I think as my role in Federation, I can help...

Segment Synopsis: Cohen briefly discusses how important education is. She would like to work with an education program within the community. Cohen did not date much in her youth and mostly focused on her friendships. She went to Jewish summer camp and had a good group of friends. She felt that having a social life of just friends really created her identity, and she did not feel comfortable dating in her young life. Factors such as focusing on her academics, culture, her introvertedness, and other circumstances held Cohen back from dating in her early life. She had hoped to find her husband in rabbinical school, however academics were her main priority. She also felt culturally different from a lot of the people she had met in her youth and did not connect with anyone. She had been introverted and was not comfortable with herself as a young adult.

Keywords: Academics; Connections; Cultural differences; Cultures; Friends; Growth; Introverted; Late bloomers; Rabbinical schools; Relationships; Young life; Youth

Subjects: Dating (Social customs); Dating (Social customs)--Religious aspects.; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Social life and customs.

01:18:48 - Coming to Lexington to seek social life

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Partial Transcript: Um, when I got here, I came here in particular also recognizing that Cincinnati was an hour and a half away, and I thought, "Oh, well, at least I have Cincinnati."

Segment Synopsis: Cohen came to Lexington, Kentucky in search of friends and a potential spouse. She knew that Cincinnati, Ohio was close and that there would be a Jewish community there. She knew that she wanted to date someone who was Jewish, and had a hard time finding someone she was interested in dating. Her teen group was small and felt like family so dating anyone within that group was not an option. Her community in Lexington, Kentucky was also a close-knit group of friends.

Keywords: Cincinnati, Ohio; Connections; Dating pool; Jewish community; Sibling-like relationships; Small peer groups; Spouses; Synagogues

Subjects: Cincinnati (Ohio); Dating (Social customs); Dating (Social customs)--Religious aspects.; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Social life and customs.; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Cincinnati (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 39.1, -84.516667
01:21:11 - Meeting her husband and starting her family

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Partial Transcript: Um, again, I, I did the online thing, as funny as that was.

Segment Synopsis: Cohen used Internet dating late in her life to meet her husband. She was open to sharing that she was a Rabbi on her profile and had many funny stories of the online dating scene. For example, seeing people online she knows in real life or having people seek religious guidance after finding out she was a rabbi. She also was very open about her Judaism online both to be honest and because she was looking for someone who was Jewish as well. She eventually had two children and feels very lucky to have been able to, since she gave birth in her mid-forties.

Keywords: Dating scene; Forced timeline; Jeffrey Cohen; Marriage; Older parents; Online dating; Rushed; eHarmony

Subjects: Dating (Social customs); Dating (Social customs)--Religious aspects.; Dating services.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Social life and customs.

01:24:58 - Challenges of raising a Jewish family in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Can you describe your experiences raising a Jewish family here in Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Cohen says raising a Jewish family in Lexington, Kentucky comes with certain challenges. Cohen has had to change how she does everything, from dinner to spending time as a family. She used to only have to worry about herself but now she has to plan for a whole family. It is hard to keep the family eating Kosher, especially as the children get older and interact with people who are not Jewish. She recalls eating with non-Jewish families and having a hard time with the Jewish dietary restrictions. Sabbath also causes issues with the children's activities. Observance and ritual challenges are the most difficult.

Keywords: Challenges; Changes; Competing values; Family; Jewish; Kosher; Observance; Rituals; Sabbath; Shabbat; Soccer games

Subjects: Childhood; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish women; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:28:43 - Maintaining a committed Jewish lifestyle in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, but, um--for instance, we've made the commitment to try to stay where we're at, in the house that we're at.

Segment Synopsis: Cohen stays committed to an observant Jewish lifestyle. In order to do this, her family has decided to stay in their home which is walking distance to the synagogue. It is very important for her to be close to the synagogue, because being so close has become a huge part of their lifestyle. It is also challenging being Jewish and juggling being involved in other things due to competing commitments to Jewish religious observances and the desire to be a part of the greater Lexington community.

Keywords: Choices; Commitments; Homes; Lifestyles; Observance; Observant; Sabbath; Sunday school; Synagogues

Subjects: Childhood; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish women; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:30:59 - Current involvement in the Jewish community

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Partial Transcript: What type of Jewish activities and organizations are you and your family involved with?

Segment Synopsis: Now that Cohen is not working as a rabbi, she is free to be involved in the Jewish community as she wants to be. She is able to go to the synagogue when she wants. She is a part of the Federation but would still go to many of those events as a private person as well. Mostly she is focused on her family and therefore making decisions based on what is best for them instead of her professional obligations. She is able to bring the focus to her children and husband instead of having to do things out of obligation. She predicts that as her children age they will be more involved in the Jewish community.

Keywords: Choices; Congregations; Federation; Holiday parties; Memories; Memory making; Shabbat; Tired

Subjects: Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:34:02 - Leadership roles in the community

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Partial Transcript: Um, what leadership roles do you have now currently, if you have any, and what are the responsibilities associated with each?

Segment Synopsis: Cohen balances leadership roles and involvement in many areas while also raising a family. Her professional career is her main source of leadership but she has been able to be involved outside of that. She has volunteered in the community and been part of a panel. She also runs a music program through the synagogue. She enjoys helping as an educator or expert in the area. Her main focus is her children and she foresees that she will take on more leadership roles as they get older.

Keywords: Chaplains; Educators; Leadership roles; Panels; Professional careers; Volunteering; Volunteers

Subjects: Families.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

01:35:54 - Population changes in Jewish Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Have you seen any changes in the Jewish community in Lexington or Kentucky in your time here?

Segment Synopsis: Right now the Lexington Jewish community is booming with young children. The population tends to be primarily affected by economic forces and especially employment opportunities at the University of Kentucky. People are looking to connect and get involved; the leaders of the community are responsible for getting people to join when possible. The Jewish population is growing in Lexington, Kentucky which poses both new benefits and challenges to the community. Younger families are becoming a large part of the Jewish community. The city and good economy draws in new families. Lexington has expanded and various areas have changed to be more inviting. People want to get involved and connect. The leaders of the synagogue are responsible for facilitating others get involved and join the community.

Keywords: Budgets; Challenges; Changes in population; City; Connections; Cyclical; Economics; Economy; Funds; Future; Growth; Hiring freezes; Immigration; Income; Job opportunities; Members; University of Kentucky (UK); Young families; Young kids

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:43:14 - Influences of Jewish culture on learning styles

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Partial Transcript: Um, do you have anything else you'd like to add for the record?

Segment Synopsis: Cohen says that Jewish culture encourages questioning, thinking, and challenging, which can be perceived differently by various cultures. While studying religion it is common to study with others in order to question and discuss. Cohen describes an event in which her questioning was perceived in a way she did not mean it. She was working at Veterans' Affairs and was in a peer evaluation program. She was told by her boss that he had noticed she asked a lot of questions and he had taken it the wrong way. Eventually he accepted that that was how she learned. She explains how this experience helped her better understand the way learning stems from a cultural base.

Keywords: Clinical pastoral education program (CPE); Cultural base to learning; Curiosity; Differences; Engagement; Haver; Havruta; Inherent; Interfaith experiences; Interpersonal relations; Learning; Passover Seder; Perspectives; Questioning; Supervisors; Thinking; Traditions; Veterans Affairs (VA)

Subjects: Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)