JTS Appoints Distinguished Spiritual Leader Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen as New Dean of the Division of Religious Leadership

March 3, 2022 — New York, NY  The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), one of the world’s preeminent centers of Jewish higher education, today announced that it has appointed Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen to serve as the new Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School and dean of the Division of Religious Leadership at JTS. In this role, Rabbi Cohen will lead the institution’s Rabbinical School and H. L. Miller Cantorial School. As a renowned spiritual leader, learned rabbi, and passionate advocate for social justice, Rabbi Cohen brings years of experience and new perspective to the role. 

Rabbi Cohen will assume her new role on July 1, 2022, as interim dean Rabbi Jan Uhrbach transitions to her previous position as director of JTS’s Block / Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts.

“It is a great honor to take on the deanship of the Division of Religious Leadership at JTS. I am excited to help shape the next generation of Jewish clergy, and to cultivate the spiritual and intellectual lives of future rabbis and cantors so they can meet the challenges of Jewish life with wisdom, creativity, and resilience. As their dean, I will help ground students in learning and practice so that they can build community, pursue justice, and apply the wisdom and depth of Jewish tradition to a rapidly changing world,” said Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, the newly appointed dean. 

“We are thrilled that Rabbi Cohen is joining JTS in this pivotal role. Her deep learning, love of Israel, and wide range of rabbinic experience has given Rabbi Cohen her exceptional knowledge of the institutions that shape Jewish life—including JTS. Her leadership will be crucial to helping JTS meet this moment of immense possibility for the Jewish world with all of the intellectual vigor and spiritual vision it requires,” said JTS Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz.

With more than two decades of leadership experience at world-class Jewish institutions, Rabbi Cohen brings extensive qualifications to her new role. For a decade, she provided spiritual leadership at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBTQ synagogue, serving Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Most recently, Rabbi Cohen was the senior director for the New York/Tri-State Region at the New Israel Fund. Prior to that role she was director of the Center for Jewish Living and the David H. Sonabend Center for Israel at the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. 

Rabbi Cohen earned her rabbinical ordination at JTS and her BA with honors from Brown University. She is the author of Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the First Forty Years, and co-editor of Siddur B’chol L’vavcha. She is also on the board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and Plaza Jewish Community Chapels.


About The Jewish Theological Seminary

JTS is a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, training thoughtful, innovative leaders—rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and scholars—who strengthen our communities with a vision of Judaism that is deeply grounded in the Jewish past and thoroughly engaged with contemporary society. JTS also provides high-caliber, lifelong learning and professional development to our alumni, adult learners, and Jewish communities throughout North America. Through its Library, JTS preserves and makes accessible to students and scholars throughout the world the greatest collection of Judaica in the Western Hemisphere.