Cohen lives and leads in faith


Photo courtesy of Abi Cohen

Cohen, second from left, poses with other USY Co-Regional Executive Board members in April 2019 at the Westin Hotel in Princeton, NJ. after being elected to their positions.

Kaitlyn Delaney

Despite growing up in Marlboro, junior Abi Cohen’s roots tie back to Israel, where she was born. Cohen moved to the United States as a baby, but with the majority of her extended family still living in Israel, she and her family make efforts to visit almost every year. Though she no longer lives in her birthplace, the global center of Judaism, Cohen’s religion still plays a significant role in her everyday life.

“[Judaism] guides my outlook on the world and values in life, among other things,” Cohen explained. “It’s just like other religions.”

Aside from practicing Judaism through keeping Kosher and attending synagogue services regularly, Cohen involves herself in her religion through a movement known as the United Synagogue Youth (USY).

Cohen explained that USY is a youth-led movement of Conservative Judaism split into 15 regions continentally. In April of 2019, Cohen was elected as the Regional Vice President on Israel Affairs of Hagalil USY, the region representing Staten Island, North Jersey and Central Jersey. In her position, Cohen “coordinates initiatives intended to educate [USY members] on issues and topics relating to Israel.” 

These initiatives include social media movements such as #IAsk and weekly Shirat Hashavua emails. #IAsk, lead solely by Cohen, is a series of weekly videos answering specific questions about Israel; the videos have informative audios paired with skits done by Cohen. Shirat Hashavua, Hebrew for “Song of the Week,” is run by a general board that Cohen oversees. Each week, the board sends out an email to those in the Hagalil region, highlighting an Israeli song and its meaning.

Cohen explained that her experience with USY has prepared her for her future, teaching her skills in accountability, management, and communication. To Cohen, USY further offers a support system and strengthens her connections to her religion and community.

“USY provides a community and experiences that stay with you even after you graduate,” Cohen said. “Becoming active in this Jewish youth group establishes the importance of meaningful connections with people and your religion in the long term.”