Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
too, Rabbi Cohen proved himself a persuasive preacher of unusual
power. His interests expanded, so that he was an avid reader,
not only of fiction and poetry, but even more of sociology and
philosophy. He interpreted his duty as teacher and preacher as
a challenge to convey to his hearers authentic and erudite thought
—Jewish and general—on contemporary issues and their relevance
to traditional Jewish thinking, to current Jewish needs, and to the
future hopes of the Jewish people. Happiiy, he possessed a superb
English style, in speaking as well as in writing, so that in structure,
in content and in delivery, his sermons were a delight to listen to.
When called upon to deliver a public address, as he frequently
was, his audiences were edified, inspired, uplifted. Yet Rabbi
Cohen was a modest man, unspoiled by adulation. He did not
seek honors; the Philadelphia community might have fared better
if he had.
He welcomed opportunities to write, and occasionally he would
indulge himself in writing poetry. He undertook to write a volume
in an area which was interesting him more and more, namely,
psychoanalysis. The famous quarrel between Eybeschuetz and
Emden, two notable eighteenth-century rabbis, moved him pro­
foundly. Cohen saw this acrimonious polemic, ostensibly between
a rationalist and a mystic, as stemming from fundamental dif­
ferences in the psychological makeup of the two men. The book,
Jacob Emden: A Man of Controversy
(Dropsie, 1937), earned
for Cohen a doctorate from the Dropsie University. A few
years later, the Jewish Publication Society of America invited
Cohen to prepare a textbook for the teaching of Bible to adoles­
cents. He gladly accepted the invitation and produced his
Path­
ways Through the Bible
(1946), which was enthusiastically re­
ceived and has been reprinted many times. The book’s organization
testifies to Cohen’s logical and creative mind, even as its simplicity
and charm manifest his linguistic acumen.
Cohen’s interest in books naturally drew him into the circle
of the Jewish Book Council of America. From 1944 to 1950 he
edited the Council’s monthly,
In Jewish Bookland;
from 1950
to 1954 he served the Council as president.
A ll this time Cohen continued to serve the Beth Sholom Con­
gregation of Philadelphia. However, it became apparent in the
late 1940’s that the Logan section of the city was losing its Jewish
population, so that, if the congregation was to survive, it would
have to relocate. Elkins Park, which was the promising neighbor­
hood at that time and where there was as yet no synagogue, was
chosen by Rabbi Cohen and Beth Sholom’s far-sighted leaders.
But raising the necessary funds required herculean efforts, and
Rabbi Cohen was forced to devote himself to this task and to