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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 13Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scripts for Plays and Programs, undatedAdd to your cart.
T.V. program outline with Rabbi Cohn and Violet Hamilton, Choir Director "Reform Judaism Examined" (script or manuscript) - pretend T.V. studio set "interview" with a Reform Judaism Rabbi Shovuos Script (template) "The Bible" - A Script for Use as Temple Program or on Radio or T.V. to simulate an iinterview with a Rabbi "Flight into Wonderland" - with music from popular show tunes - performed by the Temple Sisterhood "Go West, Already"
Folder 2: Scripts and Skits from WARR Banquets and Conventions, 1958-1965Add to your cart.
Various 1958 to 1965 Scripts and Skits from WARR (Western Association of Reform Rabbis) banquets and conventions. Locations include Palm Springs and San Diego. Copies include handwritten drafts and final prints.
Folder 3: Scripts for WARR Convention Shows, 1965-1967Add to your cart.
Various Scripts from 1965 and 1967 for WARR (Western Association of Reform Rabbis) shows.
Folder 3: Scripts for WARR Convention Shows1965-67, 1965-1967Add to your cart.
Various Scripts from 1965 and 1967 for WARR (Western Association of Reform Rabbis) shows.
Folder 4: Marriage, Family, and Home Pamphlet Outline, Possible date June 1937Add to your cart.
Outline of pamphlet on "Meaning of Marriage and Foundations of the Family" issued by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Possible date June 1937.
Folder 5: Scripts for PARR Convention Shows, 1968-1974Add to your cart.
Various Scripts from 1968-1974 for the PARR (Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis) convention shows. Locations include Palm Springs, Coronado, Newport Beach, and San Diego. Copies include handwritten drafts and final prints.
Folder 6: Scripts for PARR Convention Shows, 1975-1979Add to your cart.
Various handwritten scripts from 1975-1979 for the PARR (Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis) banquet and convention shows. Locations include Palm Springs.
Folder 7: Scripts for PARR Convention Shows, 1980-1983Add to your cart.
Various handwritten scripts from 1980-1983 for the PARR (Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis) banquet and convention shows. Locations include Palm Springs and Los Angeles.
Folder 8: Summary of Conference of San Diego Chapter of Hadassah, date unknownAdd to your cart.
Summary of Conference of San Diego Chapter of Hadassah, sent to Rabbi Cohn at Temple Emanu-El at 4799 Seminole Drive.
Folder 9: Temple Emanu-El - Attendance/Seating for Gentlemen of Distinction, Cohn 50th AnniversaryAdd to your cart.
Temple Emanu-El - Attendance/Seating for Gentlemen of Distinction, Cohn 50th Anniversary. Invitation lists and seating charts.
Folder 10: Military Chaplain - Qualifications Questionnaires and Personnel Rosters, 1940's & 1950'sAdd to your cart.
Military Chaplain Qualifications Questionnaires & Personnel Rosters: Bureau of Naval Personnel Annual Qualifications Questionnaires filled out by Morton Cohn, USNR. District Chaplains Office personnel rosters.
Folder 11: Temple Emanu-El - Rabbi Cohn Resolution Agreement / Membership Committee, 1977 & undatedAdd to your cart.
Temple Emanu-El - Rabbi Cohn Resolution, Membership Committee Resolution agreement between Board of Directors and Rabbi Cohn to be named as "Founding Rabbi" and stating salary and pension. Request speech from Membership Committee to Temple members to assist in recruiting new members. 2-pages.
Folder 12: Sheet Music - Sabbath Prayer, Show Tunes, no datesAdd to your cart.
Sheet Music: Sabbath Prayer Various show tunes for "Show Biz" program
Folder 13: Sermons, Speeches, and Addresses, 1946, 1955, 1970, 1984, and undatedAdd to your cart.
Sermons, Speeches, and Addresses by Rabbi Cohn and others. Includes handwritten notes and typed drafts. "Civil Rights Issues" "Tomorrow's Ministry", a sermon preached by the Rev. J. R. Bartlett at the ordination of John M. Morris, San Diego, CA, December 4, 1955 "Israel Speaks", Sunday, December 22, 1946 "Jewish Humor" Rabbi Cohn's sermon notes and letter to congregation San Diego's First Unitarian Church's Sunday Morning Addresses by Minister Peter Samsom (3) Succoth: The Fruit Harvest in Palestine by Leon Fram Radio speech over NBC on "Message of Israel" program tilted "The Army and Religion" by Chaplain Aryeh Lev, Assistant, Office Chief of Chaplains, Washington, DC, Saturday, July 19,1941. 4-pages.
Folder 14: Newsletters/Articles Pertaining to Jewish Issues/Concerns - Not San Diego, 1950's, 1960's,1970'sAdd to your cart.
Newsletters and Articles pertaining to Jewish issues/concerns: The Saturday Evening Post: "Israel: Land of Unlimited Possibilities" The Bulletin of Temple Beth El (Detroit, MI 1955) West Coast UAHC Newsletter JTA Daily News Bulletin Regional Social Action and Interfaith Committees of the Pacific Southwest Council, UAHC International Committee of Conscience for Vietnam American Friends of the Hebrew University The American Jewish Committee, Institute of Human Relations Women's Association Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Folder 15: Temple Emanu-El - Rabbi's Report, Meeting Minutes, Letters of Recommendation, 1965, 1968, 1984Add to your cart.
Temple Emanu-El - Rabbi's Report, Meeting Minutes, Letters of Recommendation Rabbi's report for Temple Emanu-El annual meeting, March 25, 1965. Temple Emanu-El Annual Meeting Minutes, May 19, 1968. Letters of Recommendation from Rabbi Cohn for Sara B. Rappaport, March 8, 1984.
Folder 16: Legal Documents - Property, Family Estate, Pension, Life Insurance, 1940's, 1950's, 1970'sAdd to your cart.
Legal Documents - Property, Family Estate, Pension, Life Insurance Property leases, loans, blueprints, Jacob Cohn (Rabbi Cohn's father) family estate, Rabbi Cohn's pension with Temple Emanu-El, life insurance policies. [See also Box MJC12}
Folder 17: San Diego Women's Association for Salk Institute, 1960's and undatedAdd to your cart.
San Diego Women's Association for Salk Institute Executive Committee Meeting Agenda 10/10/1963 Program schedule Letters to board members outlining workshop schedules List of financial supporters ("Sponsors", "Patrons", "Donors") Ambassadors' Ball Reservations list Seating chart Invitation announcement flyers from The Women's Guild for "The Hippie Hoppe" fundraising event (See also Box #8 - Sally Cohn and San Diego Women's Association for Salk Institute)
Folder 18: Tractate Berakot Mishnah I. Commentary, undatedAdd to your cart.
Tractate Berakot Mishnah I. Commentary
Folder 19: Temple Beth Israel Religious School Files, 1950's & 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Temple Beth Israel Religious School Files: -Questionnaire for Religious School Teachers, Congregation Beth Israel , San Diego, CA (7) -Religious School Book List, 1950 -Religious School Order Chart, 1950-1951 -Notes regarding classes, book swap, Temple youth Sabbath -Notes regarding Primary Assembly -Registrar, 1950 -Religious School Code of Behavior -Teachers' Dinner Meeting notes, September 17, 1957 -Handwritten notes regarding books, pamphlets, and supplies orders
Folder 20: Temple Emanu-El Services and Business Records, 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Temple Emanu-El Services and Business Records: -Constitution (Articles 1-9 and Bylaws) -Newsletters, invitations, flyers, announcements, JNF Book List, handwritten notes, financial records, membership rosters -Correspondence regarding "Viet-Nam: The Clergyman's Dilemma" mobilization gathering at Washington, D.C., 1967 -Shabuoth address by Leon Fram - "How a New Ceremony is Created", 4/29/1931; Service for Rosh Hashanah (undated); Games for Hanukah (undated); Purim Songs; Antiphonal Reading for Dedication; Ritual of Dedication -Agenda for Board of Directors Meeting, 1/22/1967; Agenda for Board of Directors Meeting, 12/4/1946; Budget report, 1961; Executive Directors Report (undated); Big Brothers of San Diego County, Inc., Board of Directors Roster, 1/69 -Temple Emau-El Officers Report (re building project)
Folder 21: Temple Beth Israel Business Records and CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Temple Beth Israel Business Records and Correspondences: -Minutes regarding conclave sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations of Southern California Council held at Statler Hotel on Sunday March 4, (no year); Teacher's book requests; newsletters; correspondence regarding Southern California area Sisterhoods (1955); Theatre rental questionnaire; entertainment program schedule; By-Laws of the University of San Diego Auxiliary; property lease agreement documents (information redacted).
Folder 22: Temple Beth Israel - Holiday Programs and Sermons, 1950's/1960'sAdd to your cart.
Temple Beth Israel - Holiday Programs and Sermons: Handwritten notes and typed schedules, outlines, songs, sermons for programs and services for Purim, the High Holy Days, and Chanukah
Folder 23: Central Conference of American Rabbis Reports (Social Justice and Peace), 1939 and 1942Add to your cart.
Social Justice Commission Report, 1939 Report of the Commission on Justice and Peace to be presented at the Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Cincinnati, OH, February 25, 1942
Folder 24: Inter-Religious Conferences, 1966 and 1967Add to your cart.
Inter-Religious Conferences: First Inter-Religious Conference at University of San Diego May 1966 "Moral Power for Peace" Invitation, registration form, schedule, minutes, purpose statement, recommended reading list. Second Inter-Religious Conference at Cal-Western University November 1967 "Spiritual Values in a Changing World" Invitation, registration form, schedule, campus map. Interfaith Emergency Council Roster
Folder 25: Presentation to WARR: Curriculum Structure in Reform Religious Schools, 1956Add to your cart.
A Basis for the Curriculum Structure in the Reform Religious School by Samuel Kaminker, presented before conference of the Western Association of Reform Rabbis at Tucson, 1956. (See MJC07.03)
Folder 26: Congregation Beth Israel - Reports and Minutes, 1949-1957Add to your cart.
Annual Meeting of Congregation Beth Israel, January 20, 1957 (See MJC.04) Congregation Beth Israel Religious School Book List, 1949-1950 (See MJC03 and MJC02) Workshop Syllabus for 41st General Assembly UAHC, Cleveland, OH, November 12-15, 1950 and Report of UAHC Conference UAHC Southern California Council Committees 1956-57 interest list Report of the Dean, Director and Dean of Women of the Seventh Annual Jewish Youth Conference, Camp Saratoga Union Institute, Saratoga, CA, 1953 (See MJC02) United Nations Association Newsletter addressed to Rabbi Cohn (See MJC03)
Folder 27: National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ), 1967-1968Add to your cart.
National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ): Human Relations Through Education Experimental Project Workshop Summary and Evaluation Feedback summary of National Institute on the Effects of Discrimination Upon Children and Youth Program Activities list for NCCJ in San Diego Region NCCJ San Diego Region Board of Directors Minutes 6/68 & 10/68 List of topics and presenters
Folder 28: Temple Emanu-El Women's Guild & Western Federation ot Temple Sisterhoods, various dates (1955, 1966, and undated)Add to your cart.
Temple Sisterhood and Women's Guild and San Diego Women's Association Gentlemen of Distinction; Temple Emanu-El Women's Guild fundraising, 1966; San Diego Women's Association for the Salk Institute meetings schedule; Western Federation of Temple Sisterhoods 23rd Convention activities list, 1955; script for Sisterhood play - "Flight Into Wonderland"; seating list. (See also folder MJC13.17)
Folder 29: History of the Billings, MT Jewish Community Report to the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, Summer 1971Add to your cart.
History of the Billings, MT Jewish Community (1954-1971) Report to the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis (PARR) as compiled by Rabbi Dr. Samuel Horowitz, Temple Beth Aaron.
Folder 30: Last Will and Testament of Bertha Miller, 1956/1960/1966Add to your cart.
First Codicil to Last Will and Testament of Bertha Miller, May 1966 Receipt for burial crypt at Cypress View Mausoleum (See also MJC04.24)

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]


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