Cohn, Haim

views updated


COHN, HAIM (Hermann ; 1911–2002), Israel jurist. Cohn was born in Luebeck, Germany, and settled in Palestine in 1930. He studied at Merkaz ha-Rav yeshivah in Jerusalem, then gained a law degree in Germany in 1933. Cohn practiced law in Palestine, joining the Legal Council of the Jewish authorities in Palestine in 1947. From 1948 to 1950 Cohn was state attorney and in 1950–52 and 1953–60 he served as attorney general, contributing to the founding of the Israel legal and judicial system during the formative years of statehood. In 1952–53 he was minister of justice and in 1960 he was appointed a justice of the Israel Supreme Court. On March 5, 1980, Cohn was appointed deputy president of the Israel Supreme Court; he retired in 1981. He then became president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East. From 1975 he was member of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva and president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers. His decisions were characterized by a liberal approach to problems connected with halakhah. During 1957–59 and 1965–67 Cohn served on the un Commission on Human Rights. He also served as a law professor at the Hebrew and Tel Aviv universities. He published Foreign Laws of Marriage and Divorce (1937); Glaube und Glaubensfreiheit (1967); Mishpato shel Yeshu ha-Noẓeri (1968; The Trial and Death of Jesus, 1972), dealing with the trial of Jesus in the light of contemporary Roman and Jewish law; and Human Rights in Jewish Law (1984). In 1980 he was awarded the Israel Prize for law. During his last years he devoted himself to issues of human rights. The Haim Cohn Institute for Legal Protection of Human Rights gives free legal assistance to people in need. Cohn was editor of the department of Criminal Law and Procedure in the Encyclopaedia Judaica (first edition).

[Benjamin Jaffe]