Rabbi Norman Cohen is the founding rabbi of Bet Shalom, an 850 family Minnetonka, Minnesota congregation created by 31 families in 1981.
In 1972 Rabbi Cohen received his bachelor's degree cum laude from Holy Cross College in Worcester Massachusetts. During this period he also studied for six months in Jerusalem at the Hiatt Institute of Brandeis University. He did his graduate work at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati where he earned his masters degree in 1975 and was ordained in 1977. In 2001 Rabbi Cohen was also awarded his Doctorate of Divinity from HUC.
Prior to his arrival in the Twin Cities, Rabbi Cohen served the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Alleghenies, Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, in addition to teaching at HUC and other colleges in Cincinnati. He has continued to serve on college faculties in the Twin Cities area, including the College of St Catherine, Macalaster College, the United Theological Seminary, and St Olaf College in Northfield.
In addition to congregational and academic duties, Rabbi Cohen is active in local civic and Jewish community affairs and plays an active role in Jewish Christian relations. He serves as chaplain for the Minnetonka Police Department, has been a member of the Hopkins Crime Prevention Fund Board, the International Center for Victims of Torture, and the State Board of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police. Rabbi Cohen has been on the Religious Advisory Council of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and has served as a board member and honorary advisor to the Minneapolis Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS). He helped to create the Jewish Free Loan Program of Minneapolis and served on its initial steering committee. He is past president of the Midwest Association of Reform Rabbis, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and has been active in numerous organizations, locally and nationally, most significantly the Joint Commission of the Rabbinic Mentoring Institute, the National Committee on Rabbinic Congregational Relations and as vice chair of the Reform movement’s Joint Commission on Synagogue Management. He presently serves on the Executive Board of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and the Reform Movement’s CCAR/URJ Joint Placement Commission.
Rabbi Cohen has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles and the book Jewish Bible Personages in the New Testament. He has appeared as scholar in residence in over two-dozen cities. Rabbi Cohen is currently working on a book Stereotypes and Misconceptions that Christians and Jews Hold About Each Other.
He is married to the former Andrea Winnick of St Paul and is the father of stepson T. J. Rubin.