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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:

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Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Temple Beth El High School, Detroit , MI - Assorted Papers, 1926Add to your cart.
Pamphlets re: -Death -What Mormons Believe -Jewish Faith Correspondence and papers of high school years: congratulatory; validictory speech; award-winning short story "Shema Yisroel"; assorted class and subject notes.
Folder 2: Temple Beth El High School, Detroit, MI - Bethelite Newspaper Articles, 1925-1926Add to your cart.
Articles from high school newspaper written by and about Morton Cohn: The Divine in Man, Judaism vs. Superstition, God and Man, graduation announcement and picture, The Existence of God, History of Temple Beth El.
Folder 3: Sociology 60a, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, with Dr. Eubanks, 1929Add to your cart.
Classroom lecture notes by Morton J. Cohn during Sociology Class Class outline: primitive man, ancient orient, ancient Hebrews, early Christianity, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Reformation, 18th Century.
Folder 4: Essentials of Judaism, Hebrew Union College with Professor Cohon, no date indicatedAdd to your cart.
Class notes typed and table of contents: What is the Jew?, What is Religion?, translations of the Bible, other writings, Talmud, Decalogue, Maimonidean Creed, Jewish Holy Days.
Folder 5: A Grade Liturgy with A.Z. Idelsohn, 1930Add to your cart.
Paper titled "The Ideas Contained in the Sholosh Regolim Services in the Union Prayer Book" A Grade Liturgy with Idelsohn Typed notes titled "The Idea of the Holy" by Rudolf Otto.
Folder 6: Social Studies II with Blumenthal and Cronbach, 1930-1932Add to your cart.
Handwritten and typed class notes, outlines, and papers on topics of social sciences and Judaism.
Folder 7: Theology I Hebrew Union College with Dr. Samuel S. Cohon, Oct. 1930-May 1931Add to your cart.
Notes handwritten by Morton J. Cohn during Rabbinical Education in Theology I class. Note topics include: value of history; character of God; origins of Judaism; religion of patriarchs; nature of Yahweh, the Decalogue; adjustment of Yahwehism to Canaanite scene; prophets; results of the exile. Paper titled "The Service of the Second Temple."
Folder 8: Talmud, Hebrew Union College, with Dr. Lauterbach, 10/1/1931Add to your cart.
Handwritten class notes of Talmud II by Morton Cohn "Compositions" notebook with handwritten Talmud 5 class notes Transcribed Lecture Notes on the Codes for Talmud V
Folder 9: Theology IV , Hebrew Union College with Professor Cohon., Oct. 1931-May 1932Add to your cart.
Handwritten notes by Morton J. Cohn during Rabbinical Education in Theology IV class. Note topics include: meaning of theology;
Folder 10: Theology V, Hebrew Union College, 1933Add to your cart.
Notes typed by Morton J. Cohn during Rabbinical Education in Theology V class. Note topics include: religious aid to health-faith cults; psycho-therapy; danger of faith cures; Judaism and medicine; the ethical and the religious life; ethics of Judaism; practice of religion; the function of Torah; Torah and character; way of purification-meaning of sin; atonement. Paper titled "The Attitude of Judaism toward Divorce, Historically Considered" , Theology V - Professor Cohon
Folder 11: Bible VI, Hebrew Union College with Dr. Nelson Glueck, 1934Add to your cart.
Summary of 11 lectures compiled by Morton Cohn titled "Lectures on the Religion of the Semites" by William Robertson Smith - a summary. (Lecture I - XI)
Folder 12: Education III, Hebrew Union College with Abraham Franzblau, 1933-1934Add to your cart.
Class Syllabus on Organization, Supervision, and Administration of the Reform Religious School. Paper: Topic XVI - Organizing the Religious School Written Assignment I titled "Organization of a Young People's Group" "Compositions" notebook of lectures - Education 3.
Folder 13: History A, Hebrew Union College with Dr. Jacob Mann, 1934Add to your cart.
Timelines (2): Political Palestine; Political Babylon; Amoraim: Palestine; Babylon Class Syllabus: History A - "From the Destruction of Second Temple (70 C.E.) to the Rise of Karaism (about 760 C.E.)" History "A" Volume I typed notes from Lectures Deliverd by Dr. Jacob Mann "From 70 C.E. to the Rise of Karaism (c. 760)
Folder 14: History I, Hebrew Union College with Dr. Jacob Mann, 1934Add to your cart.
Class Syllabus Volume Two on history from the Middle of the 8th Century to the death of Maimonides 1204, and typed class notes. Booklet containing "Maimonides' Creed" as fourteen lecture/sermons delivered from the pulpit of Congregation B'Nai Jeshurun in Newark, NJ by Rabbi Ely E. Pilchik during the year 5712.
Folder 15: History III, Hebrew Union College with J. R. Marcus, 1934Add to your cart.
Syllabus of Lectures in Modern Jewish History, lectures A through G: A - Survey of Jewish History from 1600-1789 B - Changed Environment and consequences C - Emancipation D - Assimilation E - Reform Judasim & its German Development F - Science of Judaism G - Economic History - Socialism - Jewish Labor Movements
Folder 16: History III, Hebrew Union College with J. R. Marcus, 1934Add to your cart.
Syllabus of Lectures in Modern Jewish History, lectures H and I: H - The Gentile Environmental Reaction: Anti-semitism I - The Jewish Counter Reaction
Folder 17: Class Work, misc., 1930'sAdd to your cart.
Miscellaneous: Handwritten class notes Jan. 8, 1931 (1-page) "Bible and Revelation Lesson V (1-page) "Individual vs. Community Prayer" (1-page) "An Epitome of Zunz's 'Gottesdienstliche Vortrage' "Jesus in the Talmud" (2-sections) Notebook titled "Mishnah" Rabbi Cohn, 2nd interview (not dated, not identified)
Folder 18: Class notecards, 1928-1930Add to your cart.
Sets of notecards on : 1. Psalms 1928-1929 2.History Lecture Notes - Divided Kingdom 3. Torah 4. Talmud I - 1930 5. Joshua thru Nehemiah 6. A Midrash - Dr. Finesinger, 1929-1930
Folder 19: Thesis, 1934. "The Assembly as an Instrument in Religious Education", 1934Add to your cart.
Thesis submitted by Morton J. Cohn in partial fulfillment for graduation from Hebrew Union College.

Browse by Box:

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[Box 2],
[Box 3],
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[Box 5],
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[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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