Monsey Memories: Rabbi Cohen at Ohev Sholom

Monsey Memories: Rabbi Cohen at Ohev Sholom

Yitzy Fried 

One year ago, we wrote about Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, the son of the illustrious Rav Lieber Cohen of New York City, who served as a rov in Spring Valley for many years. Today, we return to Rabbi Cohen, and focus on his tenure at Congregation Ohev Sholom on Henrietta Place in Spring Valley. 

We begin with an article announcing the formation of Ohev Sholom in 1952—which transformed a local theater into their new shul— coinciding with Rav Cohen’s leaving the Jewish Community Center, which had turned from Orthodox to Conservative. 

“New Congregation in Spring Valley for Rabbi Cohen,” wrote one of the area’s newspapers. “Parkway Theatre on Henrietta Place is to become a synagogue. It became known this week that Spring Valley is to have another synagogue. The new congregation will meet in the Parkways Theatre building on Henrietta Place and Rabbi Jacob Cohen will be the spiritual leader of the group. 

“Announcement has been made of the purchase of the theatre by a group headed by Samuel Greenberg of New City and Daniel Spiegel. Title to the building and adjacent land has been conveyed by the purchasers to Rabbi Cohen who will open an orthodox synagogue as soon as the purchases are completed. It is expected that the new synagogue will announce services in a few weeks. 

“The building has a seating capacity of 300. Rabbi Cohen has announced that daily services and a Hebrew School will be conducted, and the synagogue will be dedicated as soon as alterations are completed. 

“Rabbi Cohen is well-known in Spring Valley, having served as spiritual leader of the Jewish Community Center for 18 years.” 

Seven years into his tenure at Ohev Sholom, Rabbi Cohen was tendered a testimonial dinner marking 25 years of rabbonus in Spring Valley. 

The Orangetown Telegram wrote that Rabbi Cohen “came to valley in 1934… serving as spiritual leader of the JCC for 18 years. He left the center in 1953 when it became conservative synagogue and became spiritual leader of the orthodox congregation Ohev Sholom. 

“Rabbo Cohen studied at Yeshiva University and then at the Rabbinical Seminary in Hebron, Israel, for four years. He graduated from the seminary of Mir., Poland, in 1931, where he was ordained. Rabbi Cohen is a member of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, has been active in the Mizrachi movement, is the director of Kashruth at the Home of Old Israel, New York City, and is now serving as a chaplain at Rockland State Hospital.” 

Rabbi Cohen’s 30th yohrtzeit was recently marked; he was niftar in the fall of 1994.

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