As an intern with the National Office of Recruitment and Admissions in Cincinnati, Jason Cook assists the College-Institute in welcoming hundreds of high school and college students to Cincinnati's historical campus for leadership retreats and training opportunities.
In high school I had the chance to go on a confirmation trip to Washington, DC and participate in the RAC’s L’taken program. In short, I loved the program. For the first time, I felt empowered to advocate for myself and my community in both a secular and Jewish context. I carried those lessons into college where I returned to Washington, DC and attended American University. As a senior, I studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium, where I had the opportunity to intern with a Jewish organization working with EU programming. There, I not only felt empowered, but I learned about the vital work of creating Jewish community. When I returned, I had a new dedication to a commitment to Jewish life and moved to Palm Beach, Florida to work at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach county, facilitating teen programming (including a trip to DC to teach teens to lobby Congress). My love of Jewish communal work, combined with a long-term passion for study and Jewish learning, led me to HUC-JIR. Since starting at HUC-JIR, the joy I derive from my studies and communal work only confirm the lessons I learned in high school, college, and immediately after graduating.
I believe that 21st century Judaism holds unique challenges for Jewish communal life. With those challenges comes opportunity: our technology that facilitates connection gives us a chance to create Jewish life that is sustainable and vibrant. I hope that my rabbinate brings me to the cutting edge of these issues. I like to question our institutions and structures that have defined our religious and cultural life for years, decades, or even millennia. My hope for my career and my vision for the future of Judaism are similar. I hope to create Jewish community that inherits a rich tradition while pushing the boundaries of what that tradition holds. I hope to meet people where they are and facilitate Jewish experiences that are meaningful and worthwhile. I hope to be a part of a Jewish life that both reflects my own ideas and values while holding room for and creating dialogue with those whom I do not agree. I do not know what the future holds yet, but I am certainly excited to see what it brings.