Burton I. Cohen (z”l)

Associate Professor Emeritus

Department: Jewish Education , Melton Research Center, Camp Ramah

Email: bucohen@jtsa.edu


BA, Roosevelt University; MHL and Rabbinical Ordination, The Jewish Theological Seminary; MA and PhD, University of Chicago

Burton Cohen is associate professor emeritus of Jewish Education and former chair of the Department of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Ordained by JTS in 1957, Dr. Cohen earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Philosophy of Education from the University of Chicago. 

In his teaching, research, and writing, Dr. Cohen’s areas of interest include informal settings for Jewish education, the preparation of teachers and principals for Jewish schools, teaching rabbinic literature to adults, and the use of computers in Jewish learning and educational research. 

Dr. Cohen was the director of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin from 1959 to 1974, and from 1974 to 1989 he served as national director of the Ramah Camps and Israel Programs. He has served on the National Executive Committee of the Jewish Educators Assembly, the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education and its Day School Education Committee, and the Academic Board of the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education. He has also been a member of Conservative Movement’s Joint Committee on Educator Placement. 

Dr. Cohen received the 1999 Lifetime Award for Achievement in the field of Jewish education from the Jewish Educators Assembly and Behrman House Publishers. In 1997, the National Ramah Commission presented Dr. Cohen with Pras Ramah (the Ramah Award) for his outstanding contributions to the Ramah camping movement. He was also a recipient of the National Community Service Award from JTS and was honored by Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, which gave his name to its Mercaz Tarbut (Cultural Center). 

Dr. Cohen and his wife reside in Woodmere, Long Island, New York. His daughter Ayala and family live in Manhattan, his daughter Ilana in Chicago, and his son Yehuda and family also in Chicago.


  • Case Studies in Jewish School Management: Applying Educational Theory to School Practice. Behrman.
  • Lilmod Ul’lamed: Studies in Jewish Education and Judaica in Honor of Louis Newman. Coeditor with Alexander Shapiro. New York: Ktav Publishing House.
  • Women and Ritual: An Anthology. Editor. National Ramah Commission. 
  • Essays in Education and Judaism in Honor of Joseph S. Lukinsky. Coeditor with Adina Ofek. JTS Press. 
  • “Louis Newman’s Wisconsin Innovations and Their Effect upon the Ramah Camping Movement.” In Lilmod Ul’lamed: Studies in Jewish Education and Judaica in Honor of Louis Newman, edited by Alexander Shapiro and Burton I. Cohen. New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1984. 
  • “Teaching of Deliberation in the Jewish School.” Yearbook II, Melton Center for Jewish Education; Diaspora of the Hebrew University School of Education, Jerusalem, 1984. 
  • “Religious Institutions as Educators.” Coauthor with Joseph Lukinsky. 1985 Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education: Education in School and Nonschool Settings, Chicago.
  • “From Camper to National Director: A Personal View of the Seminary and Ramah.” In The Seminary at 100. 
  • “A Brief History of the Ramah Camping Movement.” In The Ramah Experience: Community and Commitment. 
  • “Middle East: The Jewish Community.” In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education. 
  • “An Application of Schwab’s Educational Commonplaces: Examining One Aspect of the Milieu Commonplace as Reflected in a Synagogue in a Florida Retirement Community.” Shofar 11, no. 2. 
  • “An Examination of One of the Structural Characteristics of the Jewish Educational Summer Camp.” In Judaism & Education: Essays in Honor of Walter Ackerman, edited by Haim Marantz. Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press. 
  • “An Accidental Teacher Researcher Looks at a Synagogue Talmud Study Circle.” In Essays in Education and Judaism in Honor of Joseph S. Lukinsky, edited by Burton Cohen and Adina Ofek. JTS Press. 
  • “The Impact of Summer Camping upon Major North American Jewish Religious Movements.” In Educational Deliberations: Studies in Education Dedicated to Shlomo (Seymour) Fox. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing and Mandel Institute. 
  • “Jewish Camping.” In Encyclopedia Judaica, second ed. Toronto: Thomson, Gale.