How often do you have the opportunity to meet a person so accomplished, well-rounded, thoughtful, and articulate? That is what you get in a conversation with Rabbi Dovid M. Cohen, who distinguishes himself from all the other people you know by that name by using his middle initial, M.
When we spoke last week, he and his wife had just returned from a long weekend in Israel where his parents live for part of the year and where several of his siblings reside. It was a deeply meaningful trip, a way for him and his family to celebrate his milestone 50th birthday, celebrating the past and looking ahead to a bright and productive future, G-d willing.
Who is Rabbi Cohen, what does he do, and why are we writing about him? The answer is that he approaches life, and assists and directs so many, from a multifaceted perspective.
Where to begin? Dovid M. Cohen is an attorney who graduated Columbia Law School. He’s also a pulpit rabbi who was the rav of Congregation Ohr Torah in North Woodmere for several years and also rav of the Young Israel of the West Side for a decade. He’s a psychologist in private practice and an executive coach with whom his clients discuss issues and toss around ideas on a daily basis. That, he says, is referred to as executive coaching, a fascinating and helpful concept to get you through the day or week or month, as the case may be.
Rabbi Cohen has also published two books. We’re Almost There takes us on his journey from being single to getting married, raising a special-needs child, and serving a rabbi, as he shares his experiences and wisdom about living a Jewish life in today’s world. The second book, Together Again, discusses recent global events that have necessitated rethinking many aspects of our lives. Rabbi Cohen suggests that it is time to reimagine how to better connect with the people around us as well. Sounds like good and prudent advice.
Another dynamic aspect of what Rabbi Cohen has to offer us is the relationship with his oldest child, Yedidya, who is a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, who in many ways, Rabbi Cohen says, brings energy and enthusiasm to the family of five children. Through Yedidya, Rabbi Cohen began a relationship with Yachad, the arm of the Orthodox Union that caters to special-needs children and young adults. Among his many endeavors, Rabbi Cohen is a member of the professional staff of Yachad.
As you can see, Dovid M. Cohen brings a great deal to the table. As you speak with him you can’t help but wonder how many aspects of life over the years might have been better dealt with if one had the opportunity to discuss it with Rabbi Cohen first. That must be what executive coaching is all about.
But just when you think you may have captured the essence of what Rabbi Cohen has to offer, he adds that, by the way, he also hosts a popular podcast known as the Jewish Philanthropy Podcast. I only listened to some parts of those podcasts, but it can be summarized in just about one word—money: the power of money and how it can be utilized to impact on so much in our lives and the lives of so many others.
Rabbi Cohen, who got married 20 years ago, recalled that on his recent trip to Israel he reunited with the taxi driver whom he credits with engineering his shidduch two decades ago. He explains that the driver took him to Amuka near Tzfat, where those who daven at the gravesite of Rav Yonasan ben Uziel are said to find their soulmate in the year ahead.
Rav Yonasan was known for his profound attachment to and intense Torah study; the Gemara recounts that when birds flew over his head they burned due to the presence of angels who came to hear him study Torah.
Jewish tradition states that Rav Yonasan never married because he preferred to spend all his time studying Torah. Toward the end of his life he regretted not marrying and offered a berachah that all those seeking a marriage partner should visit his burial site to facilitate the process.
Dovid Cohen says that the day after he visited Amuka he met the young lady who would become his wife.
It is rare to encounter a personality like Rabbi Cohen, who has so many talents to offer others. In sum, he is a rav, lamdan, posek, guide, teacher, adviser, and social worker, possessing vast experience in so many diverse disciplines. Rabbi Cohen is located in North Woodmere but travels the world as a scholar-in-residence. As it says in Pirkei Avos, Chapter 5, “…at 50, one has the ability to give counsel…”
Rabbi Dovid M Cohen has arrived at that juncture.
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.