Conversation with Rabbi Norman Cohen
Date & Time:
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Thursday, September 14, 12:00 noon
Iversen Hearth Room (room 340), Anderson Student Center
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus
2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN
refreshments and cookies provided; please bring your own lunch
This session is part one of an eight part series running through the 2017-2018 academic year titled Encountering Religious and Cultural Traditions: A Series Fostering Religious Literacy and Interreligious Understanding. In this session, Rabbi Cohen will teach about the lived experience of Judaism as well as address some common misconceptions and stereotypes people have of the tradition.
Renowned scholar of religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith argued that in order to “understand Buddhists, we must not look at something called Buddhism but at the world so far as possible through Buddhist eyes.” Likewise, in order to understand Judaism, Hinduism, and so on, we must not look at Judaism, Hinduism and so on, but at the worldviews of Jews, Hindus, and so on. In his New York Times Bestseller, Religious Literacy, Stephen Prothero writes “I am convinced that one needs to know something about the world’s religions in order to be truly educated,” and argues that “you need religious literacy in order to be an effective citizen.” This year-long series aims to foster religious literacy and interreligious understanding by examining the world through the eyes of religious scholars and practitioners from various traditions. They will share their own lived experiences of their traditions and also address common stereotypes and misconceptions.
Rabbi Norman Cohen is rabbi emeritus of Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka, where he was senior rabbi from 1981 through 2015. His engagement in interfaith learning with Christians goes back to his college years at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he graduated with honors in 1972. He earned his master’s degree from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1975 and was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity there in 2001. Rabbi Cohen returns to Holy Cross College every year to serve as chaplain and advisor to Jewish students and faculty, and he also visits Hebrew Union College as a teacher in practical rabbinics. He has been an adjunct faculty member at several colleges and universities in Ohio and Minnesota, including St. Catherine University and St. Olaf College, and also at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles and the book Jewish Bible Personages in the New Testament (University Press of America, 1989). He is currently working on a new book, tentatively titled Stereotypes and Misconceptions that Christians and Jews Have about Each Other and What to do about Them.