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Edward Cohn

b. 1948

Edward Cohn was born in 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland.  He attended the University of Cincinnati, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1970.  Edward went on to earn a master's degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the St. Paul School of Theology in 1984.  Rabbi Cohn has served as a rabbi in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri before his selection as Senior Rabbi of Temple Sinai in New Orleans in 1987.  He is active in many organizations in New Orleans as chair of the New Orleans Holocaust Memorial Project and the City Human Relations Committee, a consultant to MSNBC, and past president of the Rabbinical Council of Greater New Orleans.  He and his wife Andrea have two daughters, Jennifer and Debra.

Scope and Content Note

Rabbi Cohn talks about his family background, upbringing, Jewish education, and how he came to New Orleans.  In 1987, he was selected as the rabbi for Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation in Louisiana.  Rabbi Cohn describes the congregation and Temple Sinai's role in the community as a good neighbor and bringing people together in such a unique and diverse city.  Rabbi Cohn details when Hurricane Katrina first came on his radar and how he, his family, and his congregation prepared.  Rabbi Cohn and his family first went to Jackson, Mississippi, before the storm.  Then eventually settled in Atlanta, where his daughter lives.  Rabbi Cohn was back in New Orleans for Kol Nidre and was in Baton Rouge at B’nai Israel for the High Holidays.  Temple Sinai has initiated several outreach programs since the storm.  Cohn calls attention to the enormous heroism that arose from the storm.  He also commented on the patience of those who have lost so much.  He spoke too of the intertwining and inter-connection of community.   One of the first events Temple Sinai held was a Thanksgiving dinner.  So few who were in town had kitchens in which to cook; they had about two hundred in attendance.  He would also place Target cards and Home Depot cards in the back of the synagogue so that people who needed them could take them without feeling too conspicuous.  Temple Sinai has always maintained an Ecumenical presence in the community.  Rabbi Cohn talked not just of the commitment of the Jewish communities but Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, and Lutheran.  He helped initiate a Human Relations Commission in the city many years ago, and they are still active.  They are busy recording the history and contributions of the city's various ethnic, racial, and religious communities.  It is a fourteen-month study.  Rabbi Cohn is also sensitive to gay issues and performs commitment ceremonies at Temple Sinai.  Rabbi Cohn reflected on his values and home life: pumpkins at Halloween, Sukkoth at synagogue, and Shabbat with his daughter in Atlanta.  Finally, he spoke of the collective pain and trauma of Katrina to communities in the South.  


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How to cite this page

Oral History of Edward Cohn. Interviewed by Rosalind Hinton. 25 July 2007. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 1, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/cohn-edward>.

Oral History of Edward Cohn by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.