Rabbi Michael Cohen has been named director of rabbinical services and programs for The Legacy Senior Communities. Cohen’s appointment comes as the Jewish not-for-profit organization seeks to provide a religious and spiritual resource for residents, families, caregivers, staff and volunteers across the organization, as well as strengthen ties with the Greater Dallas Jewish community as a connector to its clergy. Cohen joins The Legacy Senior Communities with over a decade of rabbinical experience providing for a variety of spiritual needs, and for people of all faiths.
“Rabbi Cohen is an extraordinary asset to our team, and we’re looking forward to having him as a resource for those we serve,” said Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “As a Jewish-sponsored organization, it gives us great pride to have a spiritual leader on our team to help guide us as we seek to serve Jewish seniors and their families. At all stages of life, having a religious or spiritual leader is an integral component of one’s faith, and in many ways that need strengthens as we age. By having a rabbi on our team, we can reach those we serve in an entirely new and meaningful way. We look forward to working with Rabbi Cohen and are excited to see the positive impact he will have on our entire organization.”
“I’m honored to take on this role and the responsibility of meeting the religious and spiritual needs of residents, families, caregivers, staff, and volunteers at The Legacy Senior Communities,” said Cohen. “For the organization to provide this type of care for those it serves is highly meaningful and plays an important role in the Dallas Jewish senior community.”
Cohen stressed the importance of religious practice, lifelong learning and cultural connections for the overall well-being of Jewish seniors.
“Religious practice, teaching and tradition, along with spiritual care enhance our sense of community and provide for important aspects of life that are vital for seniors. It’s incredibly important for those who come to any of The Legacy Senior Communities’ entities that religious and spiritual services are provided.”
Cohen elaborated on what it means to serve the Jewish community at The Legacy Senior Communities.
He added, “Creating this position within the community is a further extension of the services The Legacy Senior Communities already offers for residents’ needs. It’s an exciting time for me, and I look forward to getting to know the residents and learn their stories. Rabbinic and pastoral care experience is equally meaningful and enriching to me in my own spiritual journey, as I seek to make that so for those whom I’m able to serve. I’m delighted to be starting.”
According to Cohen, his path to becoming a rabbi was a bit untraditional, as he is a second-career rabbi after formerly practicing family law. After attending the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, Cohen has since been certified as an educator of Clinical Pastoral Education, training chaplains for spiritual care in a variety of environments. Cohen enjoys building strong relationships, facilitating transformative growth for individuals and families, and cares about supporting institutional mission. While Cohen’s expertise draws deeply from his Jewish faith, his knowledge, training and experience with patients and caregivers of all religions allows him also to connect with those of other faiths to provide the religious and spiritual support needed by seniors and their families.
From the beginning, he has held a deep passion to care for seniors and was influenced by his own grandmother and the deep relationship formed with her through faith at the end of her life. While attending rabbinical school, he interned at several senior care communities, providing religious and spiritual needs for residents, their families and staff. It’s this deep compassion for seniors that has influenced Cohen throughout his career and which ultimately led him to The Legacy Senior Communities.
“Having the opportunity to build relationships with the residents and meet them where they may truly need me is what I most value,” said Cohen. “One beautiful thing about faith of any kind is that it’s unique to each person. We human beings all seek to find someone else who can relate to us and what we hold most dear. When it comes to providing spiritual care for seniors, there’s an understanding that sometimes we come across emotions and life events that have been locked away for a very long time. This aspect of the work has to be done both gently and with courage. It’s a huge commitment for The Legacy Senior Communities to provide this dimension of care to those it serves, and I’m very much honored to be a part of it.”