Jody Cohen-Gavarian

Jody Cohen-Gavarian

In 1984, Jody Cohen broke new ground when she was appointed associate rabbi to the Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Connecticut. She was the first woman rabbi in Connecticut, and later became the first woman to have an extended tenure as rabbi of her own congregation.

The next year she again broke new ground, when she established the first synagogue-run early childcare center in the country. The center—Noah’s Ark—is still in operation.

A leader in Jewish and civic organizations, Cohen has served as senior rabbi at Temple Israel of Greater Miami since 2007. Her initiatives have included “satellite Shabbat” to celebrate Shabbat at members’ homes, a community garden supporting a homeless shelter, and a communitywide forum on immigration.

From 1997 to 2007, Cohen was regional director for the Southeast Council of the Union for Reform Judaism. She has led many trips to Israel, and has served as an emissary of the Reform Movement to Argentina and the former Soviet Union.

Cohen is a charter member of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. She received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009. She was ordained and received an M.A. in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union in 1984.

Class Year: 
1976

Mount Holyoke College

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