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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],
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[Box 12],
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[Box 15],
[Box 16],
[Box 17],
[Box 18],
[Box 19],
[Box 20],
[Box 21],
[All]

Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Organizational Chart and By-Laws - Congregation Beth Israel, no date indicatedAdd to your cart.
Chart of Organization for Congregation Beth Israel and information for committees, methods for income, membership and integration, religious school, youth activities, ways and means, public relations, by-laws, and so on.
Folder 2: Reports: Rabbi's, Committees, and Annual Meeting - Congregation Beth Israel, 1950sAdd to your cart.
Handwritten and typed reports and correspondence from annual meetings regarding: Rabbi reports of activites and numbers of personal activities and temple activities; reports of religious school committee; congregational annual dinner; correspondence.
Folder 3: Financial Documents - Congregation Beth Israel, 1950s-1960sAdd to your cart.
Documents and correspondence regarding financial income and expenditure statements and reports.
Folder 3.1: Rosters, Correspondence, Board of Directors Meeting Minutes - Congregation Beth Israel, 1950s-1960sAdd to your cart.
Rosters, Correspondence, Board of Directors Meeting Minutes - Congregation Beth Israel
Folder 4: Jewish Associations and Councils - California and National, 1950s-1960sAdd to your cart.
Minutes, reports, and documents from: San Diego Rabbinical Association; Jewish Community Relations Council; Board of Rabbi's of Sourthern California; Jewish National Fund.
Folder 5: Jewish Education in San Diego, 1947-1972Add to your cart.
Brochures, pamphlets, bulletins and programs relating to: Bureau of Jewish Education; Jewish Community Relations Council; San Diego City Schools; San Diego State College.
Folder 5.1: Jewish Education and Philosophy, 1950s-1960sAdd to your cart.
Brochures, pamphlets, and programs relating to: Jewish Peace Fellowship; American Jewish Education; Intermarriage; birth control; Arabs in Palestine; dealing with enemies. Spiritual Education Week program, March 1960, with Rabbi Cohn listed as a speaker.
Folder 6: Reform Judaism Definitions and Campaigns, 1950sAdd to your cart.
Brochures, booklets, sermons, correspondence and other documents defining and discussing advancement and financial support of Reform Judaism. Correspondence includes Temple Judea of West Fernando Valley, Congregation Beth Israel, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC).
Folder 7: Anti-Defamation League, 1960sAdd to your cart.
Anti-Defamation League (ADL): Quarterly reports, magazine article, and other documents regarding minorites, bigotry, intergration, and other issues of prejudice.
Folder 8: United Jewish Fund of San Diego, 1948-1958Add to your cart.
Items pertaining to United Jewish Fund (UJF) of San Diego: Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-laws; reports and prospectus; minutes; memberships; correspondence.
Folder 9: The American Council for Judaism and America-Israel Cultural Foundation, 1950s - 1960sAdd to your cart.
Brochures, articles, and reports discussing: Israel and Jordan; refugees; Zionism; "What We Believe"; Jewish Nationalism. Communications and flyer regarding cultural exchange between America and Israel. America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) newsletter, proposed budget allocations, and correspondence.
Folder 10: Jewish Community Center - San DiegoAdd to your cart.
Brochures, correspondence, minutes and reports discussing United Jewish Fund of San Diego and operation of Jewish Community Center Association of San Diego; Haddagah for Jewish Community Center Passover Seder. Includes material re El Cajon Blvd and 54th Street locations.
Folder 11: Community Relations Committee/Council of Temple Beth Israel, 1940s and 1950sAdd to your cart.
Correspondence, minutes, memos and reports pertaining to National Community Relations Advisory Council; Quail Valley Country Club; California Federation for Civic Unity; American Jewish Committee.
Folder 12: Correspondence - Fan Mail and Thank You Letters to Rabbi Cohn, 1948-1959Add to your cart.
Correspondence and thank you cards and letters of appreciation (1948-1959) directed to Rabbi Cohn from congregational members, community associates, and parishoners and ministers of other faiths.
Folder 13: Correspondence - Fan Mail and Thank You Letters to Rabbi Cohn, 1960-1964Add to your cart.
Correspondence and thank you cards and letters of appreciation (1960-1964) directed to Rabbi Cohn from congregational members, community associates, and parishoners and ministers of other faiths.
Folder 14: Correspondence - Thank You Letters to Rabbi Cohn from students of Catholic School Youth Center, Oct. 26, 1967Add to your cart.
Thank you cards and letters of appreciation directed to Rabbi Cohn from young students of Catholic Youth Center where Rabbi Cohn was a guest lecturer discussing the Jewish religion and holidays.
Folder 15: Correspondence - Religious School of Congregation of Beth Israel, 1940s-1950sAdd to your cart.
Notes and letters from the Congregation of Beth Israel and Rabbi Cohn to parents regarding Religious School programs, events, services, holidays, and Parents' Discussion Forum.
Folder 16: Correspondence - High Holy Days, 1948-1958Add to your cart.
Notes, programs and letters from the Congregation of Temple Beth Israel in San Diego from Morton Cohn to others regarding issues about High Holy Days.
Folder 17: Correspondence - Miscellaneous -, 1951-1960Add to your cart.
Notes and letters from Congregation of Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Cohn to others regarding: Sabbath Services; Religious School; Institute on Judaism for Clergymen; Temple Senior League; Membership Dues; Men's Club; responses to contributors.
Folder 18: Correspondence - Miscellaneous -, 1948-1960's; some undatedAdd to your cart.
Notes and letters to Congregation of Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Cohn from others regarding: conversion study; invitations; Jewish marriage ceremonies; United Jewish Fund; Congregation Shaare Emeth; legal issues; nominations; Reform Judaism; and others. Includes the UJF; Hebrew Union College. Thank you note from Sally Cohn re her operation.
Folder 19: Correspondence - Miscellaneous -, 1961-1963; some undatedAdd to your cart.
Notes and letters from others to Rabbi Cohn and from Rabbi Cohn to others. Topics include: personal appreciations and thank you's; invitations; presentation on "Basic Judaism"; donations; community inter-involvement; etc.
Folder 20: Congregation Beth Israel 75th Anniversary Souvenir Program and List of Anniversary Examples, 7/16/1951Add to your cart.
Letter from The Union of American Hebrew Congregations' Director of the Commission of Synagogue Activities with a list of examples of congregational anniversary celebrations.
Folder 21: Booklet: Souvenir History & Program Commemorating 75th Anniversary of Congregation Beth Israel, March, 1952Add to your cart.
The Anniversary Story: Souvenir History & Program Commemorating 75th Anniversary of Congregation Beth Israel, San Diego, CA. Hebrew calendar years: 5637-5712 (1952) 2 copies The 75th Anniversary dating is incorrect and was based on someone's recollections. In 1996 the founding of the congregation as Adath Yeshurun was redated to 1861. Source: San Francisco Jewish newspaper, "The Weekly Gleaner". In 1886 the congregation incorporated as Congregtion Beth Israel.
Folder 22: Rabbi Morton J. Cohn 10 Year Anniversary with Congregation Beth Israel, 11/1/1956Add to your cart.
Program drafts for Rabbi's Tenth Anniversary Sabbath Correspondence: Drafts of letters/invitations announcing special Sabbath worship honoring 10th anniversary. Correspondence: Assorted letters, telegrams, and notes of congratulations, RSVP's and regrets related to Rabbi Morton J. Cohn's10th anniversary celebration Sabbath as Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel. Correspondence: Thank you letters from Rabbi Cohn.
Folder 23: Israel Tours Brochures and Correspondence, 1954-1960Add to your cart.
Brochures and correspondence relating to tours of Israel.
Folder 24: Estate of Bertha Miller, 1956-1963Add to your cart.
Items relating to the burial and last will of Bertha Miller, Morton J. Cohn executor. (See also MJC13.29 for Last Will and Testament)
Folder 25: Home of Peace Cemetery, 1967Add to your cart.
Items relating to by-laws and financial statement of Home of Peace Cemetery.
Folder 26: Junior Congregation of Temple Beth Israel, unknownAdd to your cart.
Constitution Temple Beth Israel Junior Congregation
Folder 27: Mr. & Mrs. LTD: Young Married Couples of Congregation Beth Israel, 1952-1960Add to your cart.
Constitution, form letters, correspondence, flyers regarding a young married couples social group called Mr. & Mrs. LTD. of Congregation Beth Israel, of San Diego, California.
Folder 28: Sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel Programs -, 1948 and 1950'sAdd to your cart.
Programs, invitations, and announcements of events sponsored by the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel. (1948 and 1950's)
Folder 28.1: Sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel Programs-, 1960's-1970Add to your cart.
Programs, invitations, and announcements of events sponsored by the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel. (1960's-1970) Includes undated seating roster. Sisterhood activities and purpose.
Folder 29: Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood Follies of '55 Programs, November 5-6, 1955Add to your cart.
Programs of the Follies of '55 presented by the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood.
Folder 30: Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood Follies of '55 Programs, November 5-6, 1955Add to your cart.
Programs of the Follies of '55 presented by the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood.
Folder 31: Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood Follies of '56 Programs, November 3-4, 1956Add to your cart.
Programs of the Follies of '56 presented by the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood.
Folder 32: Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood Folies Bergere Ball Programs, 1959, 1961Add to your cart.
10 Programs of the Folies Bergere Ball November 21, 1959 presented by the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood. 1 Program of the Folies Bergere Ball November 5, 1961 presented by the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood.
Folder 33: Sisterhood - Correspondence, 1950'sAdd to your cart.
Sisterhood correspondence - letters pertaining to various matters concerning Sisterhood activities.
Folder 34: National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods - Correspondence, 1954Add to your cart.
Items - pamphlets, letters, announcements - pertaining to National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.
Folder 35: National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods - Biennial Assembly, 1946Add to your cart.
Program for 16th (XVI) Biennial Assembly March 3-6, 1946 titled "From War to Peace through Religion". 20th Biennial Assembly Convention Committees (no date) Includes undated seating roster.
Folder 36: Newsletter, Journal, and Magazine Articles Pertaining to Judaism, 1949-1965Add to your cart.
Articles re: Hebrew University, Jewish Books, progressive education, Lincoln, prejudice, family values, Jewish youth, Israel, Synagogue attendance, children and God, intermarriage, Birth Control
Folder 37: Pamphlets - Judaism, Civil Rights, The Reconstructionist, 1951-1968Add to your cart.
Assorted pamphlets re: Jewish book lists; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, three issues of "The Reconstructionist" publication; "Never have Freedom and International Morality Been so Righteously Protected" by Foreign Minister Abba Eban; Individual Freedom and National Security; Assault on the United Nations.
Folder 38: Brochure: 300 Year Anniversary of Jews in America Exhibition, 1955Add to your cart.
Checklist pamphlet of The Jews In America 1654-1954 exhibition at University of Kansas Library (Lawrence, KS) November 1954 - January 1955 in celebration of the American Jewish Tercentenary.

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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