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Kohn, Jacob


KOHN, JACOB (1881–1968), U.S. Conservative rabbi, scholar, and educator. Kohn was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary (1907). He earned a doctor of Hebrew letters at the Seminary in 1917. After leading the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Syracuse, New York (1908), Rabbi Kohn served Ansche Chesed Congregation in Manhattan, New York (1911–31). Located on the West Side, his congregation introduced decorum, mixed seating, and a choir. Many a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary would attend these services as part of their rabbinic experience, contrasting Kohn with Mordecai *Kaplan. Among those, whose career in the rabbinate Kohn guided, was Milton *Steinberg. In 1931 he moved to Los Angeles, which was then growing into a Jewish community of substance, to begin at the ripe age of 50 a long career as rabbi of Sinai Temple. Learned and scholarly, Kohn became associated with the newly founded *University of Judaism (1947), where he was dean of the graduate school and professor of theology until his death. He was president of the Alumni Association of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the precursor of the Rabbinical Assembly. He helped edit the Conservative Movement's Festival Prayer Book and was a member of the commission that prepared its Sabbath and Festival Prayerbook in 1946. Kohn wrote Modern Problems of Jewish Parents (1932), and later in his career he wrote Moral Life of ManIts Philosophical Foundations (1956) and Evolution as Revelation (1963). Kohn also contributed many articles to philosophical journals and to periodicals dealing with Jewish life and thought. In addition to his scholarly interests, he was active in the affairs of the Jewish community, serving on the Overseas Committee of the Jewish Welfare Board in leadership positions during World War i, and in the Rabbinical Assembly, the Los Angeles Zionist District, and the Jewish Community Council and its affiliated organizations. He was a leading voice of Conservative Judaism in Los Angeles when the modern day Los Angeles Jewish community was being formed in the prewar and immediate postwar years.

[Max Vorspan /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

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