Q&A with Rabbi Daniel Cohen, author of What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone

Why is your book, What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone, needed?

Most people lead life on cruise control only to be awakened to the gifts and opportunities when awakened by a crisis. This book is designed to inspire people to tap into this higher frequency every day.

What drives you?

I believe there is so much more we can accomplish. To realize our divine potential each day, the unique imprint we can make on the world is our gift to humanity.

Is this a book about life or death?

We all experience a brush with our mortality. The last quiet corner of the world today is at a funeral. In those moments, we understand the fragility of life. Harness that awareness for greatness. Seize your inner stirring for inspired living. Why wait?

Who is your message for?

Surveys show that most people regardless of race, religion want more out of life. They do not know how to take the first step or possess a roadmap. What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone is a guide for becoming your best self and leading a life of deeper fulfillment, joy and impact.

What motivated you to write this book?

My mother passed away from a brain aneurysm when she was 44. I am the oldest of six children and was in my twenties. I understood that she was young but it was not until I entered my forties that I truly realized the brevity of her life. This realization awakened with renewed urgency to make the most of my life and share this inspiration with others.

 What makes your voice unique?

Having officiated at hundreds of funerals, I am in the position to distill the essence of life within minutes. I sit with families and glean what is most important about a person, what will be remembered. You learn from personal stories, regrets and joys, the ingredients for a life well lived.

 Is it not depressing to be surrounded by death?

It is not a burden but an honor. When I am guiding people in their final days before death, when the clutter of life disappears, it is both inspiring and haunting to hear a person’s final words. Are they at peace or in inner turmoil? Their mental state, their fear or faith, is the product of the life they lived, the decisions they made and the love they shared.

 What if I am not religious or spiritual, would I relate to this book?

I truly believe the answers to leading a life of legacy lies inside all of us. We all possess an inner voice that yearns for meaning love and significance. Yet, we often fail to heed that inner voice. We walk in a daze moving from one event to the next vaunting time rather than making the time count. The seven principles in the book will train you to act courageously, seize meditative moments, live inspired and transform every moment into one of impact and eternity.

Did you find writing a book a tough task given all of your responsibilities as a Rabbi and father of six daughters?

I love what I do. I pray to God for strength every day to be His ambassador for blessing in the world. We are all here for purpose. Every day, every hour and every moment is an opportunity to grow, learn and spread light. As my father says, “make every day a masterpiece”. We should all ask ourselves, is what I am doing today that is worthy of future memory?

 Is What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone a onetime read or a resource for life?

The process of reverse engineering our lives is never ending.  We can always grow. Just as in the financial world, we monitor our bank accounts; we must do the same with our soul accounts. Always remember, every bit of light we share, we reveal in the world, we reveal in ourselves is eternal and a reason to celebrate.

 Tell me about your book.

Imagine walking out of a funeral and as you leave, you experience a moment when you say to yourself, regardless of your faith, I hope they speak about me the way they spoke about that person. You are motivated for 15 minutes and then you are back to life as usual. The book begins by challenging you to crystallize the life you want to lead and then I take you on a journey of seven principles to reverse engineer your life so you can lead the life now for how you want to be remembered.

 Will this book change my life?

It is up to you. The book is designed as a road map for intentional and inspirational living. Each chapter possesses a tool box with manageable tasks to directly impact and enrich your life now.  Do not underestimate the power of one positive act, one light to transform your life and those around you forever.


Whether a mentor, guide, cheerleader, or motivator, Rabbi Daniel Cohen possesses a unique blend of authenticity, wisdom, and spiritual insight for contemporary society. His personal experience as a Rabbi, sharing hundreds of life affirming moments from birth to death, cultivating thousands of years of Jewish wisdom and as a husband and father of six daughters, combined with his humor and humanity, provide him with a compelling narrative and navigational guide of your life. Rabbi Cohen has served in the rabbinate for over twenty years and currently serves as senior Rabbi at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, CT, the largest modern orthodox synagogue in New England.  He is also co-host with Reverend Greg Doll of the nationally syndicated radio show “The Rabbi and the Reverend” Sunday mornings at 11 AM and evenings at 9 PM. He speaks frequently on leading a life of legacy, and is the author of the new book, What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone: Creating a Life of Legacy (Health Communications, Inc.). https://www.rabbidanielcohen.com/