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Rabbi Morton J. Cohn Collection, 1925-1990 | Special Collections & University Archives

By Bonnie M. Harris, Laurel Schwartz, and Helene Idels

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Collection Overview

Title: Rabbi Morton J. Cohn Collection, 1925-1990Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Cohn, Morton J. (1910-1991)

Extent: 26.76 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 08/28/2017. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.), Jews--California--San Diego

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of materials collected from Cohn's school days until his death. Included are correspondence; over 2000 sermons; plays; personal documents; photographs and materials relating the various congregations he served.  There are scrapbooks and newspaper clippings regarding both Cohn and his wife Sally and current events, index cards, pamphlets, research notes and plaques.

Biographical Note

Rabbi Morton Jacob Cohn was born January 12, 1910 in Detroit, Michigan and was ordained as a reform rabbi in 1934. After serving pulpits in various cities, he enlisted as a Navy Chaplain during World War II with the Southern Pacific Fleet and continued in the Naval Reserve for many years. In 1946 he settled in San Diego where he became rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel and remained there until 1964 when he left to found Temple Emanu-El, whose religious school bears his name.

Rabbi Cohn was meticulous in preserving anything relating to his career, the San Diego Jewish community, Judaism and currents events involving Jews, making his collection a comprehensive picture of San Diego Jewish life during his almost 50 years here. As rabbi of the largest Jewish congregation in San Diego, he was a formidable leader in the Jewish and secular communities. He was one of three rabbis, (Cohn, Levens, Stern) who lead the San Diego Jewish community from the years after WWII until the 1970’s.  He was very involved in interfaith activities, gave a weekly radio sermon, created and participated in musical parodies for holidays, rabbinical conventions and special occasions. He maintained a card catalog of life cycle events at which he officiated and a bibliographical file of research materials. Part of this collection is material regarding his wife, Sally Cohn, who was very involved in women’s groups and the sisterhoods of the congregations Cohn served. She started the San Diego Women's Association for the Salk Institute. They had two children Jane and Morton Cohn Jr. Rabbi Cohn died in 1991; Sally Cohn died in 1994.

Subject/Index Terms

Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.)
Jews--California--San Diego

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

Accruals: 2017-043

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Acquisition Source: Jewish Historical Society of San Diego

Related Materials:

Adat Ami Synagogue Collection

Lou Dunst Collection

Mark Freeman Papers

Deborah Horwitz and Paul Nierman Collection

Rose Neumann Collection

Elena Saad Collection

Irving Salomon Collection

Tifereth Israel Synagogue Collection

Abbe Wolfsheimer-Stutz Collection

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, Rabbi Morton J. Cohn Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[Box 5],
[Box 6],
[Box 7],
[Box 8],
[Box 9],
[Box 10],
[Box 11],
[Box 12],
[Box 13],
[Box 14],
[Box 15],
[Box 16],
[Box 17],
[Box 18],
[Box 19],
[Box 20],
[Box 21],
[All]

Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Sermons given at Springfield, MO, Hamilton, OH, and Cincinnati, OH, 1931-33Add to your cart.
Numbered list of multi-paged sermons including title, purpose, and locations given (Springfield, MO, Hamilton, OH, and Cincinnati, OH). Sermon titles: Measures and Values Tolerance What is Sin? Whither Bound? In the Heart Must Men Suffer? Leader of Men A Wedding Sermon The Good in Bad Times Can Man Cope with Sorrow? (2) The Bad in Good Times Facing Tomorrow The Message of a Melody This Day our Daily Light Give Us This Day our Daily Light Why Do the Nations Rage? Who is the Religious Man? Chanukah, Our Festival of Cleansing
Folder 2: Sermons and Speeches given at various locations (OH, MI, MN, WI, MS, TX, KY, FL, SC), 1934-35Add to your cart.
Numbered list of mulit-paged Sermons and Speeches given at various locations (OH, MI, MN, WI, MS, TX, KY, FL, SC) 1934-1935 Sermon Titles: What Does God Think of Us? Women of the Old Testament Women of Valor Isreal Unite! George Washington and Religous Liberty The Springtime of Hope The Beauty of Religion and the Religion of Beauty Hitlerism Comes to America Is Romance Dead? Sermon on Parshas-Re-eh Can Man Cope with Sorrow? Facing the Future as Jews in America Armistice Day Sermon Sermon for Hattiesburg Tomorrows Challenge to the Jews of Today (5) Sermon on Parshas Tezaveh Walking Together Our Prayer for Life The Road to the Open The Message of a Melody What is Sin? A Three-Fold Blessing Our Dead Shall Live From Deceiver to Saint
Folder 3: Sermons given at various locations (includes SC, PA, TX), 1936-1937Add to your cart.
Sermons given at various locations (includes SC, PA, TX), 1936-1937 Sermon Titles: Adventures of a Regional Rabbi Dedication of Memorial Window The Road to the Open Facing Tomorrow Walking Together The Message of a Melody What is Sin? Tomorrow's Challenge to the Jews of Today Confirmation: A Preparation for Jewish Living The Road to the Open
Folder 4: Sermons (Memphis), 1938Add to your cart.
Sermons (Memphis), 1/1938-6/1938 Sermon Titles: What Shall We Teach Our Children? (2) Wanted: A Jewish Epic The Juniper Tree Strange Fires What Does Youth Really Want? (2) Jewish Youth Faces a World of Crisis The Best Things in Life-Are They Free? Passover's Eternal Loveliness The Commemoration of Crisis The Springtime of Hope Can We Be Righteous without Religion Walking Together The Dynamics of Fellowship The Inevitability of Jewishness The Distinctiveness of Israel Fear: Humanity's Greatest Menace Unblemished Offerings The Business Man and the Bible Voices of Children Five Greatest Personalities of Jewish History The Festival of Shovuos Where the Jews Succeed
Folder 5: Sermons (Memphis), 1938Add to your cart.
Sermons (Memphis), 7/1938-12/1938 Sermon Titles: Lure of Books Jewish Philanthropy An American Jew Looks at Partition The Jew Faces a World of Chaos What Shall 'We do with our Leisure? The Tradtition of Philanthropy The Road to Peace - Which Way? Highways to Jewish Living Measures and Values Judaism and Social Justice Sukkoth Morning Service Our Common Meeting Ground This Thing Called Democracy The Seeing and the Blind Jacob and Israel: A Study in Regeneration Reflections concerning Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men The Joseph Drama
Folder 6: Sermons (Memphis), 1939Add to your cart.
Sermons (Memphis), 1939 Sermon Titles: Niemailler-the Man and the Symbol A Jewish Home Pain and Suffering - Are they Necessary? Shall We Abandon Prayer? (2) George Washington and Religious Liberty The B'Nai B'Rith - An Answer to a Challenge The Talmud Jews in Public Office The Bondage of Egypt-Past Experience of Present Reality? Days of our Years What Shall I Preach About 1914 and Now The German Refugee - Fiction and Fact Impromptu Thoughts on the Eve of Crisis Moriah - The Mountain of the Spirit What Does God Think of Us? Synagogue and Rabbi The Nazarene by Sholom Asch-Book Review Jewish Youth and Jewish Parents - Allies or Enemies? Sermon on Deuteronomy 5:6-7
Folder 7: Sermons and Speeches (Memphis), 1940Add to your cart.
Sermons (Memphis), 1940 Sermon Titles: A Sunlit Isle in a Dark Sea Haman and Mordecai - the Eternal Conflict Book Review of Verdun A Mother's Prayer Amsterdam, Berlin, London, and Points East Rekindling the Lights A Sixth Column Danger - National Hysteria Pain and Suffering - Are they Necessary? Tomorrow's Challenge to the Jew of Today America's Greatest Menace - Sixth Column Hysteria Peace on Earth - What Kind of Peace? Attitude of Judaism toward Divorce, Historically Considered A Credo in Time of Chaos Disappearance or Survival - Shall the Jew Assimilate? The Best Things in Life - Are they Free? A Link Between Two Testaments - The Apocrypha Sermon on the Hebrew University A Mother's Prayer Tabernacles - Symbol of the Joyous Life The Road to the Open Why Doesn't God Stop the War? The Symbol of the Flame (Chanukah) Opening Remarks for Chairman on Education Day Zionism - A Factor in the Struggle for Democracy [Speech for National Hadassah Education Day]
Folder 8: Sermons and Speeches (Niagara Falls), 1941Add to your cart.
Sermons and Speeches (Niagara Falls), 1941 Sermon Titles: Zonta Club Address The Economic Problem of the Jew Counsel for Today The Return to Religion What is a Jewish LIfe? Our Way of Life or the Way of Death? Some Winter Thoughts Days of our Years Prejudice and the Truth about the Jew The Synagogue and the Emigre The Legacy of the Synagogue The Dynamics of Fellowship A Rabbi Looks at Marriage What Does Youth Really Want? Jews in Public Office-Asset or Liability? Religion and National Defense I am the Jew Eternal Walking Together The Sabbath of Return - To What? The Soul of the Jew For the Sin Which we have Sinned Louis D. Brandeis - In Memorium My Religion is Doing Good The Promise of Palestine Ideas as Weapons of War Wagging Tongues and Eager Ears 2 Kinds of Laughter
Folder 9: Sermons and Speeches (Niagara Falls), 1942Add to your cart.
Sermons and Speeches (Niagara Falls), 1/1942 - 9/1942 Sermon Titles: Religion and Social Service What are the Rabbis Thinking? [attached with pamphlet of "The President's Message to the Fifty-Third Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis", Cincinnati, OH 1942] Passover Morning Sermon The Dynamics of Fellowship Freedom and the Bible [New Year's Day sermon] Frankly Speaking: An Answer to a Libel Hear, O Lord: Is Israel One? Men and Moments that Mattered O Captain, My Captain If I Were a Christian Formula for Brotherhood Four Sons: Four Answers How To Be Happy in Troubled Times Can Our World Endure? God and the Giver Your Last Year on Earth Never Trouble Trouble The Lessons of Pentecost A Springtime Idyll Scapegoats The New Paganism and Jewish Survival The Challenge of the New Year A Season of Rejoicing A Return to the Sabbath
Folder 10: Sermons including radio sermons for WHLD, Niagara Falls, 1942Add to your cart.
Sermons including radio sermons for WHLD, Niagara Falls, 10/1942-12/1942 Sermon Titles: Succoth Morning Sermon Ideals: Their Use and Abuse Land Where My Fathers Died: 1492 to 1942 Columbus Day Sermon A Personal God Twenty Five Years After Balfour The Synagogue and the War I'm Not Superstitious, But... The Three 'C's of Religion Living in Three Dimensions God and the War Why Doesn't God Stop the War? Champions of God The Best Things in Life - Are They Free? The Message of the Maccabees Measures and Values The Juniper Tree Light Amid the Blackout Some Winter Thoughts A Credo in Time of Chaos
Folder 11: Sermons including radio sermons for WHLD, Niagara Falls, 1943 and as USNR Chaplain, 1943Add to your cart.
Sermons including radio sermons for WHLD, Niagara Falls, 1943 and as Chaplain for the USNR at the USNTC in San Diego Sermon Titles: Why as a Navy Chaplain? The Next Voice You Hear... The Saving Grace of Laughter Farewell Sermon, Glenview Navy Pier The American Way - A New Year's Challenge Let My People Go My Religion is Doing Good Never Trouble Trouble Can Our World Endure? The Birthday of the Trees What Does God Think of Man? Shall We Abandon Prayer? The Quest for Fellowship- 1.Our Heritage of Intolerance 2. Prejudice, Politics, and Profit George Washington and Religious Liberty How To Be Happy in Troubled Times Do You Believe in Immortality? Ideas as Weapons of War Pain and Suffering - Are They Necessary? Let Freedom Ring? Voices of Children? Must We Hate our Enemies? What Nine Years Have Taught Me of Judaism God and Pearl Harbor
Folder 12: Sermons as USNR Chaplain, 1944Add to your cart.
Sermons as USNR Chaplain, 1944 Sermon Titles: Memorial Day Sermon May - Navy Pier Columbus Day Sermon
Folder 13: Sermons as USNR Chaplain, 1945Add to your cart.
Sermons as USNR Chaplain, 1945 Sermon Titles: Farewell Four Sons - Four Answers Memorial Day What's New with the Jew V-J Sermonette Radio Transcription Sermon For Rosh Hashonah What Do We Mean by Religion? Never Trouble Trouble Is Israel One? Some Christian Friends of the Jew How Religious Are You? The Greatest Riddle in the World (delivered at Temple Beth El, Niagara Falls) "Let's Get on the Bus" (Sermon for Veteran's Citation-Sabbath)
Folder 14: Sermons as USNR Chaplain and at Temple Beth Israel, 1946Add to your cart.
Sermons as USNR Chaplain, 1946 Sermon Titles: Esther the Queen Faith Tried in Battle Report on Union Convention The Voice of Europe and the Voice of America Jewish Therapeutics Why I am a Zionist Torah, Chochmah, and Uno Purim and your Morale Recipe for Jewish Living The Fifth Question The Freedom to be Free Farewell Sermon (Niagara Falls) How Shall We Measure Life? The Quest for the New The Message of a Melody People of the Book - Reality or Misnomer? The War that Still Goes On What Shall We Teach Our Children? What Shall I Preach About? A Time for House Cleaning Rosh Hashona Message: A Happy New Year (USO-Jewish Welfare Board of San Diego broadcast)
Folder 15: Sermons (San Diego), 1947Add to your cart.
Sermons (San Diego & other locations noted on back pages), 1947 Sermons and Notes Titles: How to be Holy though Modern The Tower of Babel and the Ladder of Beth-El Memorial Day Sermon Jewish Community Council - Coronado Oil For the Lamps of Faith The Dynamics of Brotherhood (Radio talk for broadcast during Brotherhood Week) The Church and Homemaking (Paper in Symposium on "Contributuon of the Church to Family Living," San Diego Social Hygiene Association) The Character of a City Principles to Guide American Jewry From Potsdam to Moscow: Americas Role in Tomorrow's World If I Were a Christian (2) (radio addresses) The Springtime of Hope Youth is a Wonderful Thing The Eternal Jew Walking Together Your Last Year on Earth Justice: A 20th Century Luxury Right and Wrong: Do They Still Have Meaning? Things Men Live By The Road to the Open Nothing New Under the Sun The Balfour Declaration and 30 Years Later God Bless America - With What? (2) (S.D. and KCBQ broadcast) Crossfire - Anti-Defamation a la Hollywood (2) Read Any Good Books Lately?
Folder 16: Sermons (San Diego), 1948Add to your cart.
Sermons (San Diego & other locations noted on back pages), 1948 Sermon Titles: Israel (for Institute of Jewish Studies) Let My People Go Lets Sing a New Song The Golden Calf What Are you Worth? Purim and Progress Spiritual Values in Character Education A Word to Worriers Building Christian Citizenship in a Democracy (Euclid School PTA) To Secure These Rights Voices of Children Rabbi Moise Bergman (eulogy) Israel Speaks Happy Atomic New Year Kol Nidre Calls Us An Old Prayer with a New Meaning The Return to Religion The Choice Before Us Pain and Progress Prescription for Peace How Odd of God to Choose the Jew Catching Up With Our Past Rekindling the Lights
Folder 17: Sermons and Speeches, 1949Add to your cart.
Sermons/Speeches (SD & other dates/locations noted), 1949 Sermon Titles: U.J.F. Kick-Off Dinner Causes for Cracking Up The Year of 49 and the Spirit of 76 Hamlet the Tragic Doubter Have We Outgrown God? Israel Speaks What Can Religion Do For Me? A Minor Holiday with a Major Message Religion's Do's and Don'ts Freedom and Self-Enslaved (Sermon for Passover) A Mother's Prayer We Light the First Candle Living as Jews and Liking It Unfinished Business (Memorial Day Sermon) The Oldest House in the World (Sermon for Erev Rosh Hashanah) Let's Go the the Clinic (Sermon for Rosh Hashanah Morning) Dedication (Sermon for Shabbos Shuvah) Scapegoats (Sermon for Yom Kippur "Far from Where?" (Sermon for United Nations Week) What Can We Learn From Noah? Lest We Forget (Sermon for Shabbos Todah) Politics and Religion "Israel's Flag is not Mine" Hanukah Isn't For Cowards Happy Birthday? (A Christmas Sermon)
Folder 18: Sermons, Undated, 1930s-40s and 1951Add to your cart.
Sermon Titles: The World We Want to Live In Jewish Book Month Why Jesus Died The Heirs of Balaam Installation Response "Keep the Miracle Alive" (United Jewish Fund Sabbath) Lets Understand Ourselves Commencement Address Sermon on HUC-JIR the Unsung Song The Dilemma of the Pacifist The Message of the Shofar The Deceived Heart A People or a Problem? The Moral Committment "We Hold These Truths" The Torah and the Bill of Rights Faith Tried in Battle
Folder 19: Sermons, Incomplete, 1940s, 1953, 1961Add to your cart.
Sermons, Incomplete The Best Things in Life - Are They Free? title pages missing, dates: May 30, 1947 Dec. 27, 1946
Folder 20: Prayers and Invocations, 1930s - 40sAdd to your cart.
Prayers and Invocations given for various occassions including: Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, dinners, dedications, Navy Hospital, memorials, graduations.
Folder 21: Sermons - Given by Others (Union of American Hebrew Congregations/United Jewish Laymen's Committee), 1937-1944Add to your cart.
Press Release Sermons from the Union of American Hebrew Cong. Sermons given by Others (many w/ United Jewish Laymen's Comm.) Sermon Titles: The Call to Youth-Rabbi Leo Franklin Memorial Address of Chaplain Roland Gittelson at the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima Faith.... in a Faithless World! - Rabbi William Rosenblum Justice - Rabbi David de Sola Pool Israel, Its Teachings, Its Land and Its God - Rabbi David de Sola Pool Hanukah, The Festival of Lights - Rabbi David de Sola Pool Jewish Roots in American Soil - Rabbi Israel Goldstein Is Man a Failure?- Rabbi Israel Goldstein This is my Faith - Rabbi Philip Bernstein The Bill of Rights and the Bill of Duties - Rabbi Philip Bernstein George Washington's Birthday Sermon - Rabbi Philip Bernstein "The Light in the Wilderness" - Rabbi Abraham Feinberg What We Need Most - Rabbi Abraham Feinberg "Four Areas of Faith" - Rabbi Abraham Feinberg The Rediscovery of Religion - Rabbi Louis Newman From Bondage to Freedon - Rabbi Louis Newman Sermon by Dr. Jonah B. Wise Sermon by Rabbi Norman Gerstenfeld (3) Jewish Paticipation in Defense of the U.S. - Chaplain Bernard Segal Sermon Preached by Rabbi Jonah B. Wise "Faith for Fighting Men" - Rabbi Philip Bernstein Sermon by Chaplain Roland Gittlesohn The Power of Religion - Chaplain Philip Lipis "In the Navy Its a Must" - Chaplain Henry Berkowitz "Keeping Faith" - Chaplain Charles Shulman "What Shall WeTeach Our Children?" - Rabbi Louis Binstock "What Our Fighting Children Teach" - Rabbi Louis Binstock "What Our Fighting Children Think" - Rabbi Louis Binstock
Folder 22: Sermons - United Jewish Layman's Committee, 1949, 1949Add to your cart.
Sermons - United Jewish Layman's Committee, 1949 Sermon Titles: One Man' Faith - Rabbi Baruch Braunstein Something Personal - Rabbi Nathan Perilman Faith in the New Year - Rabbi Newton Friedman The White Fast - Rabbi Julius Gordon Why I Believe in the Power of Prayer - Rabbi Julius Gordon Why I Believe in Immortality - Rabbi Julius Gordon Obstacles to Understanding and Peace - Rabbi Louis Mann A Religious Definition of Freedom - Rabbi Joseph Lockstein
Folder 23: Sermons on George Washington given by others, 1932Add to your cart.
Booklet of a collection containing 34 sermons by ministers of various denominations throughout the U.S. commemorating George Washington, prepared at the request of and published by the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission. *Pamphlet "George Washington-Revolutionist [A Bi-Centenary Address] "by John Haynes Holmes, published by The Community Church, New York City, 1931-1932 series.

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[Box 1],
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[Box 10],
[Box 11],
[Box 12],
[Box 13],
[Box 14],
[Box 15],
[Box 16],
[Box 17],
[Box 18],
[Box 19],
[Box 20],
[Box 21],
[All]


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