COHON, SAMUEL SOLOMON (1888–1959), U.S. Reform rabbi and theologian. Cohon was born in Minsk, Belorussia. He received a traditional yeshivah education before his family immigrated to the United States in 1904. He received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati (1911) and was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1912. Subsequently, he served as rabbi in Springfield, Ohio (1912–13), and in Chicago at Zion Temple (1913–18) and then at Temple Mizpah (1918–23), which he organized. In 1923 he returned to Hebrew Union College as professor of theology. He was active in the affairs of the central conference of american rabbis . Cohon took a more favorable attitude toward traditional Jewish observances, the Hebrew language, and the idea of Jewish peoplehood than did the earlier generation of American Reform   rabbis; his viewpoint is reflected in the statement of position called the "Columbus Platform," of which he was the principal draftsman and which was adopted by the Central Conference in 1937 and essentially overthrew the earlier Pittsburgh Platform of Reform Judaism. As a theologian, he built on the Reform writings of abraham geiger and kaufmann kohler , but parted company with them when they departed from the historical development of Judaism. Cohon participated in editing the Union Haggadah (1923) and the Rabbi's Manual (1928). He wrote What We Jews Believe (1931) and a number of papers in the yearbooks of the Central Conference and in the Hebrew Union College Annual. He was a significant participant in the revision of the Union Prayer Book and served on the Committee that revised the Union Home Prayer Book. He was editor of the department of theology for the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1939). In 1956 Cohon retired from HUC in Cincinnati and became a fellow at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish-Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Campus, and later chairman of its graduate department. His library collection, now housed at Hebrew Union College, is one of the finest collections of Jewish theology and philosophy on the West Coast. His Jewish Theology: A Historical and Systematic Interpretation of Judaism and Its Foundations was published posthumously in 1971. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.A. Meyer, in: Judaism, 15 (1966), 319–28. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: K.M. Olitzsky, L.J. Sussman, and M.H. Stern, Reform Judaism in Amer/ica: A Biographical Dictionary and Source-book (1993), 32–33; S.E. Karff, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at One Hundred Years (1976), 403–07; I. Landman (ed.), The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1942), 262. (Sefton D. Temkin)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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