By 2012, Michael Cohen will have studied at three of the five schools at The Jewish Theological Seminary.
In 2006 he graduated from the dual-degree Joint Program at Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies with two bachelor's degrees: one in Bible from JTS and another in History from Columbia University. For Michael, there was no question that his next steps would lead him back to JTS. "I did not apply anywhere else besides The Rabbinical School. I had already experienced the vibrant academic life at JTS. I knew that if I returned, I would receive the best education possible," he explained.
Now enrolled at The Rabbinical School, and working toward a master's degree concentrating in Synagogue School Administration at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, Michael once again studies with professors he describes as "highly invested in not just the ideas but in the future of the Jewish people as well." A joint class between Union Theological Seminary and JTS, exploring the faith-journeys of people from different religious backgrounds, stands out within the intense curriculum for its illuminating texts and engaging classroom atmosphere.
One thing that did not change after he enrolled in The Rabbinical School was the willingness of his friends at JTS to engage in deep conversation. "I am continually impressed by my peers in their commitment, intelligence, and overall decency. Beginning in college, I stayed up late with my classmates discussing theological issues and sharing our vision of the world with each other," he says.
After ordination, Michael plans to pursue a teaching career or serve in a big city congregation. He is following in the footsteps of his father, who serves as a rabbi in Chicago, while continuing to blaze his own path. "It is important to me that Jews have access to their rich heritage, and if I can help them in that process I will feel privileged indeed," Michael says.