Rabbi Aryeh Cohen Minneapolis: Jewish Tradition in Modern Life
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen discusses attitudes, beliefs and values shaping Jewish practice.
Jewish culture is rich with stories and traditions that help us grow as people and make sense of the world. How can we take these invaluable resources and use them to enrich our own lives? Our most basic desire is to be true to ourselves, to live a life that reflects who we are and how we want to live. But how can we do this in a world that constantly tries to tell us who we are, where we belong, and what we should believe? Jewish tradition has wonderful ideas about being authentic, fair-minded individuals in a chaotic world. It also has some great truths about current events that impact our daily lives. When used responsibly—and with an open mind—these teachings can be a source of comfort, inspiration, and self-improvement.
In this article, Rabbi Aryeh Cohen Minneapolis explores the productive tensions between Jewish values, and engages viewers in thinking more deeply about these values, what we learn from them, and how these tensions enrich Judaism.
Aryeh Cohen is a Minneapolis-based rabbi who teaches rabbinic literature at the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University. He writes and speaks frequently on subjects that span the spectrum from the intersection of Talmudic discussions and contemporary issues of justice to modern political and environmental issues such as advance domestic issues, focusing mainly on immigrants rights and the protection of undocumented residents and asylum seekers. At the core are always the fundamental values of Judaism and the timeless essence of what it is to be a Jew.
When asked the question “Why be Jewish?” Rabbi Aryeh Cohen responded: Because Judaism can teach us how to deepen our lives, how to better the world, how to join together with others who share similar goals. In addition to teaching us spiritual and moral mindfulness, Judaism encourages us to live a life in this world that brings us joy and encourages ethical action. Ultimately, the answer to why we are Jewish must reside in the mystery of every soul in search of its place among others and with God."
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen is the author of the book Justice in the City: An Argument from the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism, he is a columnist for HuffPost, and he regularly writes for publications including Patch.com. His Facebook page has nearly 40,000 “likes,” and he has nearly 3000 followers on Twitter. It’s safe to say Rabbi Aryeh Cohen Minneapolis lives in the modern world. He says he works to apply traditional values and beliefs into contemporary society without losing sight of his core principles.
Judaism as a source of identity and belonging
In a world that is often so full of hate and fear, nothing can be more comforting than to find a community that supports you and your beliefs. You will feel safe, accepted, and most of all, loved when you set foot in a Jewish community. One of the best ways to make this happen is to find a community where you feel truly at home. You can't force yourself to be somewhere you don't want to be. You'll just end up feeling like an outsider if you try to force yourself to be in a community that you don't feel at home in.
One of the biggest challenges to finding a community that speaks to you is finding one that is accepting of you as you are. This might seem like a simple task, but it's actually pretty difficult in today's world. Find a community where you feel safe to be who you are, and you'll be on your way to making new friends, finding a job, and making a contribution to your community, recommends published author and philosopher Rabbi Aryeh Cohen Minneapolis.
The value of tradition as a guide to life
The Jewish tradition is filled with ideas and concepts that can enrich our lives and make us whole people again. As complex and interesting as modern life is, it can sometimes feel like an intrusion into the wonderful tranquility that is Jewish life.
When we take the time to look behind the shiny facade of modern life, we find that there is much to be appreciated. We find that there is much beauty in the simple, everyday things in life, like the way a bowl of fishsticks feels in your hands, the way that fresh flowers smell, and the way that a crackling fire feels in our cold, wet, winter's night. Jewish tradition is full of beautiful and meaningful traditions that can enrich our lives, and help us find our way again.
Jewish perspective on social issues
As a people who have occupied a very specific place in history, Jews have a unique perspective on many of the issues that are of concern to contemporary society. While most people can relate to the oppression they witnessed growing up as Jewish children, many people also have a hard time understanding what it's like to live in a world where they are constantly being told who they are, where they belong, and what they should believe. Jewish culture has always had a special relationship with the arts. Many people are surprised to learn that the central themes of Judaism are romance and love, and the arts, in particular, have been a major source of inspiration for modern-day Jews.
Practical solutions for modern-day problems
When you feel like you don't belong anywhere, or that life is a struggle—the first thing to do is to accept yourself exactly as you are. This means being kind to yourself, because you are the only one who can make positive change in your life.
When you love yourself, you are in a much better position to show the world who you are and what you can do. When you love yourself, you are more likely to attract people who can love you back. When you have a sense of humor about yourself, you are more likely to be accepted for who you are— regardless of what you do or don't do. Your sense of humor can balance out the seriousness of your dark times, and help you to move forward with a wiser head.