There may be no Jew in history with a more well-rounded resume of leadership positions in the Jewish community.
Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen served as a soldier in Israel’s War for Independence (in the Old City of Jerusalem, no less), as a captive, as a chief chaplain (in a Jordanian prison, and later in the IDF Air Force), as a law school graduate, as a legislator, as a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, as a chief rabbi of Haifa, as president of the religious courts in Haifa, as a decisor, as a fund raiser for Israel bonds and the UJA, as a dean of two prestigious post-graduate religious institutions (Machon Harry Fischel, and Ariel, which he founded), as the chief representative of the Israel chief rabbinate to the Vatican in Rome and to the church of England, and above all, as a unifier who was personally friendly with his comrades in arms Yitzchak Rabin and Arik Sharon, and many others, having built relationships with people ranging from Rav Kook, when a child (spending a lot of time on the Rav’s knee, and not just at the brit), with the Chazon Ish as a teen-ager, then with the iconic Rabbi Soloveitchik, the iconoclastic rabbis of Chovevei, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, etc., and above all with secular Jews and even Arabs. He got his Arab captors to dance with the Jewish prisoners in wartime when in a Jordanian prison. How often has that happened even in peacetime since then?
A recent biography by Professor Yechiel Frish and Rabbi Yedidya HaCohen has just been translated from the Hebrew to English by Urim, at the suggestion of a nephew of his, Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq., who also participated in the editorial process and added an entire chapter on his uncle’s activities abroad. The book was dedicated by RZA Presidium member Martin Oliner, and Reva Oliner. Rabbi Reichel offers a presentation in person on the intriguing topic of nearly 100 ironies associated with Chief Rabbi Cohen, who was ironically referred to by a prominent world-famous rabbi (May 14, 2008) as in effect “the chief rabbi of the world” (even though (1) he was never universally known outside of Israel, and (2) he never served as chief rabbi of any entity more than a large and diverse city or an air force, although, in still another irony, during one period he served as the only person ever to serve as chief rabbi of all of the Jews of Israel — the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sfardim (April 2003).
Reichel also offers to serve as a scholar in residence in your community to discuss his 3 inter-related recent books – also on Rav Cohen’s inspirational father-in-law, The Maverick Rabbi (Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein), and on Harry Fischel (Goldstein’s father-in-law), who played a major role, mostly posthumously, in Rav Cohen’s life.
Attached is a cover of the book on Rav Cohen, and below is a link to the Israel Chief rabbinate’s official prayer for Yom Yerushalayim, as written by Rav Cohen, and as sung by a chazzan with a whole symphony orchestra.
Cantor Avremi Kirshnbaum תפילה לירושלים מילים הרב שאר ישוב כהן – YouTube
Originally published in the Religious Zionists of America (RZA) newsletter