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August 23, 1991 - Image 148

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I OBITUARIES I

HAVE YOU RECENTLY
LOST A LOVED ONE?

Hebrew Memorial Chapel
Announces
Grief Counseling Sessions
At No Charge

Gerson Cohen, 66,
Conservative Leader

group meetings at the chapel
on alternate Thursdays
beginning
August 29, 1991 at 7:15 p.m.
led by Elaine Burton Medwed, M.A.

For additional information,
call 543-1622

.NNIMF A
MEM

Hebrew Memorial Chapel

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26640 Greenfield Road
Oak Park, Michigan 48237

MEW

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=NM& 411111MMIN
MEMIIIIIME1111111.111111.

Advertising in The Jewish News Gets Results
Place Your Ad Today. Call 354.6060

SAY
IT
WITH
TREES

Graveside Services

We Provide Substantial Savings

Serving all Cemeteries

The assurance that your loved
one will be treated according to
Jewish law with respect and
reverence.

JEWISH
NATIONAL FUND

18877 W. Ten Mile Road
Suite 104
Southfield. Michigan 48075
Phone: (313) 557-6644

Chapel Services Available

AlanH.

orfman Funeral Direction

Monday thru Thursday
9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Friday 9
to
2 hrs. before Sabbath

Serving your Pre-arrangement needs.
Call us directly for out-of-state arrangements.

Phone (313) 546-4700
Brochure available

, Serving The Jewish Community .
Since 1960

Shiva,
Fruit and Gourmet Baskets
Candy and Nut Trays
The
7a.tsket c2Shorpe

• ‘Vorldwide Delivery
• Credit Cards Accepted

545-0505

148

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 1991

—71111---11111

Heartfelt wishes
sent with delicious
gift baskets from .. .

A TISKET A TASKET

(313) 661,4789

Packaged
and
Delivered
7 Days a Week

MONUMENT CE1Th aR

INC.

"Same Location
45 Years"
• Monuments
and Markers
• Bronze Markers
• Memorial
Duplicating
• Cemetery
Lettering & Cleaning
CEMETERY INSTALLATION
ANYWHERE IN MICHIGAN

Call 542-8266

FERNDALE
661 E. 8 MILE ROAD
1 1/2 Blocks East of Woodward

New York — Rabbi Gerson
D. Cohen, whose 13-year
term as chancellor of the
Jewish Theological Semi-
nary of America was capped
by the decision to ordain
women rabbis, died Aug. 16.
He was 67 and had been ill
for some time.
Dr. Cohen was the fifth
person to head the Semi-
nary, the spiritual and
academic center of Conser-
vative Judaism. He succeed-
ed Rabbi Louis Finkelstein
as chancellor in July 1972.
Failing health forced him to
step down on July 1, 1986.
He was succeeded by Rabbi
Ismar Schorsch.
Dr. Cohen, who liked to
describe himself as a
"fortunate melamed" (re-
ligious teacher), did not con-
sider the 1984 decision to or-
dain women the most
significant achievement of
his tenure. It was too con-
troversial and divisive, he
explained.
Actually, Dr. Cohen was
vehemently opposed to the
move when it was first rais-
ed in his sixth year at the
Seminary's helm.
"At that time [1978], I
hoped the issue would be
studied properly and
defeated," he told an inter-
viewer in 1985.
"Religion is committed to
tradition," he explained,
"and we're committed to
Halachah [Jewish law] and
to those usages that have
been so accepted as to carry
halachic weight."
Ordaining women, he
believed at the time,
violated that principle.
But after appointing a
commission and discussing
principles "rather than cor-
rect politics," Dr. Cohen
later recalled, "I was con-
verted to the moral rectitude
and halachic validity for this
change."
From that point on, Dr.
Cohen was an ardent sup-
porter of the move and
among the most vocal.
Among the achievements
Dr. Cohen did list among his
successes was the building of
the new Seminary library,
which includes 270,000 vol-
umes, 15,000 manuscripts
and codices, 40,000 Genizah
fragments, and thousands of
rare documents and prints.
Also among his successes
were the establishment in
Israel of the Bet Midrash-the
Seminary of Judaic Studies
and the bringing to the
Seminary of a more youthful

Rabbi Gerson Cohen

and qualified American-
trained faculty.
But Dr. Cohen bemoaned
the fact that serious Torah
study was largely lost in
America. "All of our adult
education programs have so
far failed to compensate for
this loss. The most educa-
tionally sophisticated Jew-
ish community of all time is
virtually illiterate in
Judaism," he said. "The
problem of teaching the
elements of Judaism to doc-
tors, lawyers and other pro-
fessionals is one we have yet
to solve."
Born in New York City in
1924, Dr. Cohen was elected
a Phi Beta Kappa while at
the City College of New
York, from which he
graduated with special
honors. In 1948, he was or-
dained at the Seminary. He
also held degrees of bachelor
and master of Hebrew litera-
ture from the Seminary. He
received his doctorate in
Semitic languages from
Columbia University in
1958.
After he stepped down as
chancellor in mid-1986, Dr.
Cohen continued to serve the
institution as chancellor
emeritus and as Jacob H.
Schiff distinguished service
professor of history.
Dr. Cohen was a member
of the President's Commis-
sion on the Holocaust and a
fellow of the American
Academy for Jewish Resear-
ch, as well as the former
editor of its proceedings. He
was a member of the board of
directors and former chair-
man of the publications
committee of the Jewish
Publication Society.
Dr. Cohen is survived by
his mother, Nechama; his
wife, Naomi; son and
daughter, Jeremy and Judy;
seven grandchildren; a
sister, Hadassah Gordis; a
brother, Yehudi.

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