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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 18],
[Box 19],
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[Box 21],
[All]

Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: By-Laws - Temple Emanu-El, San Diego, 1964-1972Add to your cart.
By-Laws and Amendments of Temple Emanu-El (Inc.) of San Diego, California. By-Laws of Home of Peace Cemetery, Inc. of San Diego, California. Newspaper article clippings (2) dated August 1964 re beginning of Temple Emanu-El congregation.
Folder 2: Board of Directors Meetings, 1964-1968Add to your cart.
Agendas, minutes, and attendance records of Board of Director Meetings, Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 3: Board of Directors Meetings, 1969-1971Add to your cart.
Agendas, minutes, (and financial reports, correspondence and handwritten notes) of Board of Director Meetings, Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 4: Board of Directors Meetings & Miscellaneous, 1960's-1980'sAdd to your cart.
Committee list; correspondence; Minutes; agenda Jan. 13, 1977; financial statement 1980, 1981; Board of Directors 81-82; fiscal budget 81-82.
Folder 5: Annual Membership Meeting, 1964-1969Add to your cart.
Agendas, notices, proposals, reports of annual membership meeting, Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 6: Annual Membership Meeting, 1970-1976Add to your cart.
Agendas, notices, proposals, reports of annual membership meeting, Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 7: Capital Campaign Cabinet, 1985-1987Add to your cart.
Notes, proposals, letters, minutes, site plan regarding fundraising for a major building project for Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 8: Capital Campaign Cabinet, 1985-1987Add to your cart.
Notes, proposals, letters, minutes, regarding fundraising for a major building project for Temple Emanu-El.
Folder 9: Committees, 1965-1968Add to your cart.
Notes, proposals, letters, regarding appointment of volunteers for committee chairs
Folder 10: Way and Means Committee, 1965-1970Add to your cart.
1965 note on members of Ways & Means Committee. October 1970 letter requesting lease of land from Ascension Lutheran Church.
Folder 11: Budget and Finance Committee, 1965-1975Add to your cart.
Notes, budgets, reports, proposals of the budget and finance committee.
Folder 12: Membership Committee, 1965-1967Add to your cart.
Notes, lists, announcements, proposals of the membership committee.
Folder 13: Adult Education Committee, 1966-1967Add to your cart.
Rolls and study guides of the Adult Education Committee.
Folder 14: Steering Committee, 1964-1965Add to your cart.
Agendas, minutes, notes of the Steering Committee
Folder 15: Social Action Committee - Part 1 of 2, 1960s-1980sAdd to your cart.
Pamphlets, bulletins, programs, of the Social Action Committee. Social Action Workshop of the Southern California Council Union of American Hebrew Congregtions Correspondence from Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. (UAHC)
Folder 16: Social Action Committee - Part 2 of 2, 1960s-1980sAdd to your cart.
Pamphlets, bulletins, programs, of the Social Action Committee. Social Action Workshop of the Southern California Council Union of American Hebrew Congregtions Correspondence from Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. (UAHC) Bulletin of the Social Action Committee of Temple Emanu-El regarding distribution of surplus food. May 29, 1968
Folder 17: Social Action Committee, 1967-1968Add to your cart.
Notes, notices, correspondence, forms, address labels, minutes of the Social Action Committee.
Folder 18: Urban Coalition, 1968Add to your cart.
Agendas, minutes, letters, rosters of the Health and Welfare Task Force of the Urban Coalition
Folder 19: Couples Club, 1968-1971Add to your cart.
By-laws, announcements, newsletter of the Couples Club of Temple Emanu-El of San Diego, California.
Folder 20: Choir, 1966-1971Add to your cart.
Rosters, notes, sheet music order forms regarding choir and membership.
Folder 21: Associate Rabbi Applications, 1976Add to your cart.
Notes, correspondences, and applications for Associate Rabbi position.
Folder 22: Correspondence - Contributions, 1965Add to your cart.
Notes and correspondence both to and from contributors.
Folder 23: Correspondence to Members, 1965-1983Add to your cart.
Multiple form letters with names and addresses regarding worship services; appointments to committees; sabbath school enrollment; requests for contributions; announcements of celebratory dinner for Rabbi Cohn; minutes of board of director meeting Sept. and Oct 1983.
Folder 24: Correspondence to New Members, 1965-1966Add to your cart.
Multiple form letters with names and addresses welcoming new members; lists of new member letters sent.
Folder 25: Correspondence, 1965-1979Add to your cart.
Personal and offical correspondence between Rabbi Cohn and others: donations of appreciation; book sellers; teacher appointments; member updates, i.e. weddings, probations, funerals, engagements, invitations for community involvement, etc.
Folder 26: Correspondence, 1980-1984Add to your cart.
Personal and offical correspondence between Rabbi Cohn and others: donations of appreciation; member updates, i.e. weddings, probations, funerals, engagements, invitations for community involvement, etc.
Folder 27: Correspondence, 1985-1990Add to your cart.
Personal and offical correspondence between Rabbi Cohn and others: donations of appreciation; member updates, i.e. weddings, probations, funerals, engagements, invitations for community involvement, etc.
Folder 28: SCLAR & SCBR (Southern California Board of Rabbis), 1971Add to your cart.
Questionaire on marriage and conversion; questionaire on Rabbi's discretionary fund; questionnaire for Mother's Club; directory of Southern California Board of Rabbis, January, 1971. .
Folder 29: San Diego Rabbinical Association (SDRA), 1968, 1989Add to your cart.
Minutes of meeting of SDRA of San Diego Rabbis March 27, 1968; agenda of program titled "Institute on the Holy Land"; correspondence re. membership; minutes August 22, 1989 and October 3, 1989.
Folder 30: CCAR - Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1981-1985Add to your cart.
Booklet of honorary members June 20, 1984 95th annual convention; newsletters; receipt of pledge, 1981 convention booklet
Folder 31: Synagogue Council of America, no datesAdd to your cart.
Statements from members of the Synagogue Council of America: Dr. Bernard Bamberger, Rabbi Simon Kramer, Leon Gildesgame; "Jewish Health Care in America" by Stuart A. Copans, M.D., February 15, 1973.
Folder 32: United Jewish Federation (UJF), 1961-1971Add to your cart.
Brochure, correspondence, minutes of Board of Director meetings; committee report of United Jewish Federation (UJF) of San Diego.
Folder 33: Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 1967-1971Add to your cart.
Special Reports Issues: World Zionism; Syrian- Algerian Line; American Nazis; colleges and Jewish High Holy Days; anti-semitism; Soviet Jews; Holiday guidelines; Jets for Israel.
Folder 34: UAHC (Union of American Hebrew Congregations), 1968-1988Add to your cart.
Papers re: biennial convention Fe. 22-23, 1969; Report of the California School; report of the Pacific Southwest Council; 1972 directory; memo re Introduction to Judaism course schedule 1987-1988.
Folder 35: Temple Emanu-El Building Project, 1983Add to your cart.
Proposed Master Plan, site plans, floor plans, photo drawings.
Folder 36: Judasim and Politics, 1960sAdd to your cart.
Documents discussing the ultra right wing extremism in American politics.

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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