Cohen, Francis Lyon

views updated


COHEN, FRANCIS LYON (1862–1934), British rabbi and writer on Jewish liturgical music. Born in Aldershot, England, and trained at Jews' College, London, Cohen became a recognized expert on Jewish liturgy. He was preacher at South Hackney, London (1883–85), in Dublin (1885–86), and at the Borough New Synagogue, London (1886–1904), and chaplain in the British army. Ordained a rabbi in 1905, he became chief minister of the Sydney Great Synagogue in the same year and was senior Jewish chaplain to the Australian army (1914–34). In Australia, Cohen became one of the leading anti-Zionists of the Jewish community, opposing "political Zionism" as anti-British. Using the pseudonym "Asaph Klesmer" as well as his own name, Cohen wrote articles for the commemorative volume of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition (1887) and the Jewish Historical Society of England (1894), and was music editor of The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901–06). He edited collections of Jewish music, including A Handbook of Synagogue Music for Congregational Singing (with B.L. Mosely, 1889) and The Voice of Prayer and Praise (with D.M. Davis, 1899, 19142). His arrangements of old melodies were published in Lyra Anglo-Judaica (pt. 1, 1891). Cohen married the daughter of a cantor, Marcus *Hast, and one of his nieces was the pianist Harriet *Cohen.


jc (April 8, 1904), 18; (May 4, 1934), 10; Sendrey, Music, index. add. bibliography: R. Apple, "Francis Lyon Cohen: The Passionate Patriot," in: Australian Jewish Historical Society Transactions, 12, Pt. 4 (1995), 663–747, being a comprehensive biography; Dictionary of Australian Biography; H.L. Rubinstein, Australia I, index.

[Dora Leah Sowden]