Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, awarded Rabbi Stephen E. Cohen with the Doctor of Divinity at Graduation Ceremonies in Los Angeles on Monday, May 17, 2010 at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles (3077 University Avenue, Los Angeles). Rabbi Cohen was honored for 25 years of scholarly distinction as an alumnus of HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Cohen received his BA in American History from Harvard University in 1979, and received rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR/New York in 1985.
From 1985 to 2004, Rabbi Cohen was the Executive Director and Rabbi at Hillel Foundation at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Rabbi Cohen guided the development of Santa Barbara Hillel Foundation from a small student organization to a major institution in the Santa Barbara community. Many students who were active in Santa Barbara Hillel during his years have gone on to become rabbis, Jewish educators, and to hold positions of leadership in the Jewish world. Rabbi Cohen successfully raised $4.5 million to build the Milton Roisman Jewish Student Center at UC Santa Barbara.
Since 2004, Rabbi Cohen has been the Senior Rabbi at Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, CA. Since his arrival, the membership of the congregation has increased by over 50%, from 425 to 680, and has experienced a congregational renaissance.
In 2003, he authored Through the Open Door: Another Introduction to Judaism. In 2007, he edited and wrote commentary for Siddur Or Hadash for Shabbat morning and festivals.