Home Resources Cultivating Curiosity: A Jewish Pedagogy of Wellbeing
March 2024

Cultivating Curiosity: A Jewish Pedagogy of Wellbeing

Rabbi Paul Cohen
Senior Rabbi
Temple Jeremiah
The pedagogy of cultivating curiosity allows us to become better versions of ourselves through creativity.

Cultivating curiosity is an imaginative process. Using our imaginations is critical to opening ourselves up to curiosity. Learning to lead with questions is at the heart of this pedagogy. Creating a practice that will build muscle memory will be the foundation upon which to build. Many Jewish texts speak to the certainty trap that locks us into a specific mindset with its conclusions recertified. The human condition and the culture in which we live promote and celebrate binary thinking. Binary thinking shuts down curiosity. Fear is at the heart of binary thinking and is the very barrier to meaning-making. Fear is the obstacle to curiosity and imaginative thinking. So much of the anger we experience in life is rooted in fear: fear of the other, fear of losing what we believe is ours, fear of the unknown. This pedagogy seeks to move learners away from the polarization that forces us to dig in and put our self-worth into being right and toward a creative approach that engages our imagination and helps us become better versions of ourselves.

Rabbi Paul F. Cohen has served as Temple Jeremiah?s Senior Rabbi since 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa, where he studied biology and comparative religion. After college, Rabbi Cohen continued to feed his zest for learning by receiving his Master of Arts and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, which in 2015 awarded him a Doctor of Divinity honorary degree celebrating his 25 years in the rabbinate. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Bangor Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine, in May 2001. He is also a graduate of the Kellogg Management Education for Jewish Leaders program at Northwestern University. In 2016 Rabbi Cohen became a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Rabbi Cohen lives in Deerfield with his wife Cathy. He is the very proud, doting father of Jacob, Eli, Anna and Hope.
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