Steven M. Cohen

Steven M. Cohen is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR, and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner. In 1992 he made aliya, and taught for 14 years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

With Arnold Eisen, he wrote The Jew Within, and with Charles Liebman he wrote Two Worlds of Judaism: The Israeli and American Experiences. His earlier books include American Modernity & Jewish Identity and American Assimilation or Jewish Revival? He was the lead researcher on the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011.

He received an honorary doctorate from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, the Marshall Sklare Award of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, and a National Jewish Book Award. He had been cited as one of the Forward Fifty. In 2012, he was elected president of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry.

He is married to Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen, and they live in Jerusalem and New York. His daughter, Edeet, is a public interest attorney in Israel, and his son, Adam, lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

Life and Action

Two Takes on Where We're Headed (And by we, we mean Zeek)

Two Zeek board members – one longtime, one new – talk from the heart about the Jewish tomorrow and Zeek.

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

I care about Zeek because Zeek is thoughtful, literate, literary. For years, Zeek has been the place to go for meaningful long-form writing which questions assumptions and pushes boundaries. Zeek does work that no one else is doing, and sheds light on conversations that no one else is having – whether that be our 2003 essay on Zionism and Colonialism, or our 2004 essay on Hasidism and homoeroticism, or our 2009 interview with Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler.

The recent Pew study confirms that one in five Jews today says they are part of “no” religion – which makes us just like the rest of the country, where “nones” (those who check “none of the above” on survey boxes) are on the rise. My question is: how can we open up the richness of Judaism – or the many varieties of Judaism; Judaisms, plural) to those who have opted out of the communal or congregational mainstream as they’ve understood it?

Zeek is a place where that can happen. There’s no barrier to entry here. We’re interested in dialogue and discourse and in creating the Jewish tomorrow which we, ourselves, most need. Zeek is honest, authentic, questioning – qualities which I think a lot of unaffiliated Jews want and need, but may not be finding elsewhere.

By Steven M. Cohen

Small magazines that publish good thought leaders have played a vital role in shaping opinion, in sharpening the skills of the thought leaders, and in forging all sorts of innovative and oppositional movements – in American society, in Jewish life, and, of course, elsewhere.

At a time when organized Jewry has largely succumbed to the influence and interests of the most affluent (people in the financial industry, real estate moguls, and others), Zeek can play a valuable role in vitalizing and sustaining the historic Jewish voice for economic justice. It can advance the discourse by not only bringing a Jewish sensibility to bear upon these societal issues, but by bringing a sharply critical perspective to bear upon organized Jewry and its tendency to comfort the comfortable, and afflict the afflicted.

Zeek is laying the groundwork for a strong, sustainable 2014. We need your help. Please consider making a much-appreciated, tax-deductible donation to Zeek today. Support from readers, allies and partners keeps Zeek online and independent!

Readers, tell us what you think. What are your questions about the Jewish tomorrow? Why do you care about Zeek? What would you like to see in 2014? Tell us!

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