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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 17Add to your cart.
Item 1: Hebrew Union College, 1935Add to your cart.
Item 2: B'nai B'rith Women, 1957Add to your cart.
Item 3: United Jewish Appeal, 1957Add to your cart.
Item 4: Temple Youth League Beth Israel, 1959Add to your cart.
Item 5: Testimonial Dinner Temple Emanu El, 1978Add to your cart.
Item 6: Temple Emanu El Sisterhood, 1978Add to your cart.
Item 7: Testimonial Dinner Temple Emanu El, 1984Add to your cart.
Item 8: Wedding Anniversay, 1985Add to your cart.
Item 9: Rabbi Emeritus, 1987Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Collection of laminated letters of appreciation, membership cards, certificate, and photographs presented to Rabbi Morton J. Cohn from the United Fund of San Diego, 1957 - 1958Add to your cart.

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
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[Box 11],
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