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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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[All]

Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: "What Do Jews Believe?", 1939Add to your cart.
Sermon "What Do Jews Believe?" first given Mar. 13, 1939. Last date of usage recorded as April 1970. All recorded dates appear on back of last page. Excerpted 14-page article "What Do Jews Believe?" by H. G. Enelow, D. D., D. H. L.
Folder 2: Shavuoth, 1930'sAdd to your cart.
Pamphlet, notes, and articles from various publications by various authors, Shavuos play scripts, sermon on Jewish Holy Day Shavuoth by Morton Cohn, Rabbinical Education.
Folder 3: Early Sermons-undated, no dates indicatedAdd to your cart.
Sermon Titles by Morton Cohn. 1. The Place of Religion in the Modern Era 2. What Price Blessing? 3. The Beauty of Religion 4. Youth Group Address (2) 5. What the Synagogue Can Do For Youth 6. The Message of the Kol Nidre 7. Chapel Sermon - Israel's Camp 8. Peace Talk 9. The Perpetual Light 10. Pain and Suffering-Are they necessary? 11.Age of Romance
Folder 4: Call to Youth: Broadcasts, 1937-38Add to your cart.
Copies of Broadcasts of NBC Blue Network 1. A Social Creed for Youth 2. Youth Can Help 3. Civilization and Catastrophe 4. The Dreams of Youth 5. Potentials of American Youth 6. A Challenge to Youth 7. Youth and the World Crisis
Folder 5: Sex Education and Judaism, 1929, 1939Add to your cart.
Items pertaining to sexuality, motherhood, and sex education. 1. Article - "The Sex Bogey", FORUM, April 1929 2. State of Michigan - "Sex Education in the Curriculum" 1939
Folder 6: Jewish Youth Programs, 1931-1937Add to your cart.
Assorted items (minutes, letters, bulletins, etc) relating to organizations for youth programs.
Folder 7: Temple Youth Group, no dates indicatedAdd to your cart.
Assorted items relating to temple youth organizations and event programming including newsletters, correspondence and speeches.
Folder 8: United Jewish Fund - Palestine, 1940'sAdd to your cart.
Assorted documents relating to funds for Jewish refugees as a result of Hitler and WWII. Pamphlet:: "Palestine as the Hope of Jewish Refugees" Publication: "Proceedings of the National Conference for Palestine", Jan, 17-18, 1942.
Folder 9: Youth and Marriage, 1943-1948Add to your cart.
Pamphlets regarding Jewish youth and education about marriage.
Folder 10: UAHC - Union of American Hebrew Organizations [Congregations], 1936-1947Add to your cart.
Assorted documents relating to regional conventions of UAHC (Union of American Hebrew Congregations)
Folder 11: Commission on Justice and Peace, 6/25/1947Add to your cart.
Report of Commission on Justice and Peace directed to Central Conference of American Rabbis
Folder 12: Pamphlets - Assorted, 1930's-1940'sAdd to your cart.
Pamphlets on assorted topics: membership; Palestine; Social Justice messages; youth; Antisemitism; Science; Communism
Folder 13: Magazine Articles, 1920's-40'sAdd to your cart.
"Portion of the Week" articles from The American Hebrew magazines 1937-1939; assorted articles from various magazines on variety of topics: youth; Sinai; health and medicine; Sedrah; Palestine; democracy; Liberalism; Mother's Day; education; parents & God; marriage, intermarriage, love, family life, birth control, divorce, death, democracy, freedom, Lincoln, prayer, science, sex, chastity, immortality.
Folder 14: Miscellaneous Items, 1930's-1940'sAdd to your cart.
- Bulletin Temple Bene Israel, Hamilton Ohio, "Mr. Cohn Student-Rabbi" no date - Newsletter titled "The Synagogue", April 1940, Cincinnati, Ohio - Play from UAHC titled "The Return of Haman" by Rabbi David Polish, 1941, Cincinnati, Ohio -Notice of new library books [to help parents] added -Miscellaneous hand written papers
Folder 15: Early Synagogue Years, 1936-1940Add to your cart.
1. Program: Kallah of Texas Rabbis, Temple Beth El, Tyler Texas, March 30, 1936 2. Confirmation Program, Temple B'Nai Israel, McKeesport, Penn., May 23rd, 1937 3.Confirmation Programs, Temple Beth Israel, Clarksdale, Miss., 1938-1939 4. Confirmation Programs Temple Beth El, Fort Worth, Texas, 1939, 1940. 5. Confirmation Program notes 6. Generic Bar Mitvah speech for child
Folder 16: Children of Israel Congregation - Memphis, Tennessee - Rabbi Morton J. Cohn, 1935-39Add to your cart.
Items regarding Rabbi Morton J. Cohn's term as Rabbi for Children of Israel Congregation, Memphis Tennessee. Assorted items regarding Temple/Synagogue membership campaign, confirmation programs, syllabus, UAHC Synagogue Service Bulletin.
Folder 17: Temple Beth El, Nigara Falls, New York, 1940-1946Add to your cart.
Items regarding Morton J. Cohn's term as Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls, New York: correspondence to Board of Trustees; confirmation programs and items relating to confirmation services; Principle Beliefs of Judaism; Purim Program notes, Hadassah; Chanukah Program; Temple Beth El commemorative yearbook.
Folder 18: B'nai B'rith - Organizational, 1941-1945Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge War Relief Organization: rosters, officers, flyers, etc. 1941-1945
Folder 19: B'nai B'rith - War Emergency Meeting Minutes, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge - District No. 4: Minutes of War Emergency Meeting 1943 and 1944 Los Angeles and San Francisco
Folder 20: B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge - Official Correspondence, 1/1941 - 12/1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: official correspondence relating to organization and function of war relief efforts.
Folder 21: B'nai B'rith - Personal Correspondence, 1941-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: personal correspondence directed to officers of war relief organization
Folder 22: B'nai B'rith - Anti-Defamation League, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: correspondence and papers relating to Anti-Defamation League
Folder 23: B'nai B'rith - American Jewish Conference, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: correspondence and papers relating to American Jewish Conference
Folder 24: B'nai B'rith - War Bonds, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: correspondence, posters and papers relating to United Treasury War Bonds
Folder 25: B'nai B'rith - Overseas War Relief, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: correspondence, posters and papers relating to Overseas War Relief efforts of "Serve-a-Ship" program, Russian War Relief, and Netherlands. The National Jewish Monthly published by B'nai B'rith May 1946 titled "B'nai B'rith in World War II", donated by Danny Glasser.
Folder 26: B'nai B'rith - American Red Cross, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: papers relating to war efforts of the American Red Cross
Folder 27: B'nai B'rith - Infantile Paralysis Foundation, 1943-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: papers and brochure relating to National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis
Folder 28: B'nai B'rith - National Jewish Hospital, 1941-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: papers and brochures relating to National Jewish Hospital at Denver
Folder 29: B'nai B'rith - Miscellaneous, 1941-1944Add to your cart.
B'nai B'rith Women's Grand Lodge: miscellaneous papers Lasker Lodge flyer announcing Rabbi Dr. Max Nussbaum discussion: "Political Zionism"
Folder 30: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Service Record, 1943-1945Add to your cart.
Morton J. Cohn official service record documents April 1943 through December 1945.
Folder 31: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Service Record, 1947-1962Add to your cart.
Morton J(acob) Cohn official service record documents May 8, 1947 through to honorable discharge Feb. 1962
Folder 32: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Annual Report, 1943-1945Add to your cart.
Official reports from Lt. Morton J. Cohn, CHC-USNR to Secretary of the Navy via Commanding Officer
Folder 33: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - "Cohnfidentially Speaking", 1944-1945Add to your cart.
Unofficial personal newsletters from Chaplain Cohn to his civilian congregation at Niagara Falls, NY. Conditions of Jewish servicemen in WWII. "Sammy the GI" sermon.
Folder 34: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Newsletters, May 1951- April 1960Add to your cart.
Eleventh Naval District Chaplain's Newsletters: May 1, 1951 April 1, 1952 Aug. 1, 1957 April 7, 1960
Folder 35: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Misc., 1950'sAdd to your cart.
Assorted miscellaneous items during years as Chaplain: pamphlets; correspondence; programs; bulletins; directories.
Folder 36: Chaplain, US Naval Reserve - Forms, no date indicatedAdd to your cart.
Blank forms: vouchers for reimbursement, etc.

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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