Questions & Answers: Rabbi Valerie Cohen

Even though she knew she would not enter the profession, Rabbi Valerie Cohen majored in PR while attending the University of Florida. Has it helped her deal with her congregants and the demands of her position on a day-to-day basis? Read on.

Even though she knew she would not enter the profession, Rabbi Valerie Cohen majored in PR while attending the University of Florida. Has it helped her deal with her congregants and the demands of her position on a day-to-day basis? Read on.

Even though she knew she would not enter the profession, Rabbi

Valerie Cohen majored in PR while attending the University of Florida.

Has it helped her deal with her congregants and the demands of her

position on a day-to-day basis? Read on.



Describe your job. I am the assistant Rabbi at Temple Israel in

Memphis.



We serve about 1,800 families (close to 5,000 people). Our staff is made

up of about 40 people, plus religious school and pre-school

teachers.



Why did you decide to study PR? My parents had a friend who did PR for

the local school system. She described what she did, and I found it

interesting.



I also knew the skills I learned would be helpful in the rabbinate.



How did you get where you are today? I’ve wanted to be a rabbi for half

my life, since I was 14.



What would you like to change about the PR industry? I really haven’t

been part of the industry in a formal manner, but I do know that my

education at the University of Florida was innovative at the time. We

learned practical skills of PR along with theory. We had lots of writing

classes and desktop publishing, and even took the same basic reporting

class that reporting majors took. It was painful (I had my first

migraine ever during that class), but the rewards were invaluable. I

hope more PR programs stress the practical aspects as well as

theory.



How do you make a difference? Hopefully, I provide opportunities and

experiences for inspiration, education, community, etc. I also have the

privilege of meeting with people one-on-one and sharing the traditions

of Judaism with them at their lowest and highest moments in life.



Name one thing about your past that people would be surprised to

learn.



As a kid, I hated Hebrew school.



What will you do when you retire? That’s so far away ... I just got

started.



Maybe serve as the rabbi on a cruise ship.



Give an example of how you have used PR in your work as a rabbi. My

reporting/writing training during college has helped. I learned how to

write clearly, and understand the big difference between informative

writing and ’scholarly’ writing. Also, the reality of religious

institutions is that we have to ’sell’ what we offer, whether it’s

special programming or adult education or even worship services. Mostly,

I have learned to speak to my ’audience,’ and understand their

demographics and hopefully their needs.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.