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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 15Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Box of Black & White and Color Photographs - Gentlemen of Distinction Banquets and others, 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Box of black & white and color photographs of various smaller size photos from various studios and photographers of the Gentlemen of Distinction awards banquets (1968, 1969, etc.); Marion H. Drawing Prize Chevy Impala; Rabbi Cohn officiating at various services and functions and posed with dignitaries and congregation members.
Folder 2: Box of Black & White and Color Photographs - Family, Dr. Miriam Freund, Sisterhook Play, Early 1900's to late 1900'sAdd to your cart.
Box of various sized black & white and color photographs and post card photos of family from the ealry 1900's to late 1900's; Dr. Miriam Freund; Sisterhood play.
Folder 3: Box of Photo Slides - People and Scenic, dates unknownAdd to your cart.
Box of Photo Slides - People and Scenic. Dates unknown.
Folder 4: Photo Strips Negatives - Rabbi Cohn and others, dates unknownAdd to your cart.
Photo strips negatives - 25 sets of 2 images per strip. Images include Rabbi Cohn officiating at services, holidays, and ceremonies; Rabbi Cohn with dignitaries and congregation members either posed or milling around at functions and special occasions. Images not identified and no dates indicated.
Folder 5: Audiocassette - Holocaust Conference Workshops, 4/23/1979Add to your cart.
Audiocassette of Holocaust Conference workshops 4/23/1979.
Folder 6: Photos: Dedications - JCC and Walker Scott Store, 1958 and ?Add to your cart.
Dedication of JCC at 54th Street. November 1958 Dedication of Walker Scott store on Navajo Road.
Folder 7: Photo: Pope John XXIII with Rabbi Cohn and Sally Cohn, unknownAdd to your cart.
Photo of Rabbi Cohn and Sally Cohn in private audience with Pope John XXIII. Includes letter dated August 11, 2016 from Rabbi Cohn's son, Mort Jr., donating the photo to the JHSSD.
Folder 8: Formal Events - Miscellaneous Photos, dates unknownAdd to your cart.
Photo of "The Brown Family - Sally, Jane, Morton" Photo of Rabbi Cohn and unidentified woman at a banquet table Photo of Rabbi and Sally Cohn posed with others ar formal event
Folder 9: Photos: Congregation Beth El Dedication of Time Capsule, March 19,1961Add to your cart.
Scrapbook mounted photos of Congregation Beth El's Dedication of Time Capsule along with Beth Israel School of Religion dedication program schedule with Rabbi Cohn conducting the Invocation.
Folder 10: Temple Emanu-El Photos - Rabbi Cohn and congregation members, 1960's-1970'sAdd to your cart.
Photos of Rabbi Cohn and congregation members posed for special occasions, events, and holidays (i.e. children lighting candles on menorah for Hanukkah). Some photos include captions on back with names listed. Temple Emanu-El Board of Directors 1974-1975: Back Row: Bruce Gellens, Jerry Schoenfelt, Rabbi Mort Cohn, President Harold Dickstein Middle: Art Caplin, Vice President Nate Zechter, Helen Cademy, Bud Cooper Front: Peter Wolf, Abe Beers, Joe Sousa
Folder 11: Photos: Chaplain Cohn, U.S. Navy, 1940'sAdd to your cart.
Chaplain Cohn, U.S. Navy, with dignitaries and military personnel and conducting sermons and holiday services. Captions on back.
Folder 12: Photos: Gentlemen of Distinction Banquet, 1/1/1968Add to your cart.
Photos of Temple Emanu-El's Sisterhood's Gentlemen of Distinction Banquet at El Cortez Hotel. January 1968.
Folder 13: Photos: Congregation Beth-El sisterhood Play, date unknownAdd to your cart.
Photos of Congregation Beth-El Sisterhood play - tropical theme.
Folder 14: Photos: Recruit Division Review Naval Training Center, 11/1/1978Add to your cart.
Photos of Recruit Division Review U.S. Naval Training Center (NTC), San Diego, CA. Rabbi Cohn and other military personnel. Nov. 1978. Temple Emanu-El
Folder 15: Portrait of Rabbi Cohn, 1957Add to your cart.
Portrait of Rabbi Cohn. 1957. See larger framed version in Oversize.
Folder 16: KFSD Party Photos, 11/1/1954Add to your cart.
Photos donated by AirFan Radio Corporation of Rabbi Cohn and other attendees at KFSD party. Includes letter to Rabbi and Sally Cohn dated November 23, 1954 from John C. Merino, Manager at KFSD.
Folder 17: Unidentified Family Photos, unknownAdd to your cart.
Unidentified/undated Family Photos. Black & White. Posed portraits of babies, children, adults, family groups. Late 1800's? Early 1900's?
Folder 18: San Diego's United States Naval Training Center Commemorative Yearbook - "The Anchor", 1970's eraAdd to your cart.
"The Anchor" - San Diego's United States Naval Training Center commemorative yearbook about the life of a naval recruit from his arrival at the U.S.N.T.C. to graduation. 1970's era

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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