A History Continued

Hadassah’s local charitable activity is part of a long tradition of Jews being active in civic life in Columbus. In the 1880s, Issac Isaiah Moses was a major advocate for Columbus’ public school system, serving as superintendent and securing funding from the Peabody Foundation for local schools. When he died, the local newspaper wrote that Moses had done “more than any single individual in this section” for public education. In 1925, Laura Rosenberg created the Milk Fund, which gave free milk to needy students at nine different schools in Columbus. Rosenberg remained the head of the fund until her death in 1950. Rosenberg was involved in several other local causes related to children. In 1931, she was named the outstanding citizen in Columbus by the Lion’s Club. Sidney Goldberg Simons served on the Metro Planning Commission, the board of the local medical center, and on many other local boards. When he died in 1968, the city named Simons Plaza after him. Maurice Rothschild served on the local school board in 1949; the city honored his service by naming a junior high school after him.

No Columbus Jew has been more involved with children’s issues than Aaron Cohn, who has served as a juvenile justice judge for over 45 years.   Cohn served as an officer under General Patton during World War II, helping to liberate the Ebensee Concetration Camp. First appointed in 1964, Cohn has won multiple honors for his service to the community. In 2003, he became the longest sitting juvenile court judge in the country. In 2009, at age 94, Cohn was still on the bench helping to guide the lives of troubled children.  Judge Cohn passed away on July 4.  His service to the community will be missed but his legacy lives on in our hearts and in our memories.

Both of Columbus’ congregations thrived in the post-World War II years. By the 1940s, Sharis Israel, soon to be renamed Shearith Israel Synagogue, had 100 members and a full-time rabbi and shochet. After the congregation’s post-war growth spurt, they had outgrown their building. The religious school couldn’t fit into the available classrooms, and classes started to meet in different corners of the sanctuary. Finally, under the leadership of board chairman Sol Singer, Shearith Israel, now numbering 124 member households, raised money for a new $150,000 building on Wynnton Road. The new sanctuary could seat 300 people; the synagogue also included a smaller chapel, a social room, a kitchen, and six classrooms.  When Shearith Israel dedicated their new synagogue in February of 1951, Columbus Mayor B.F. Register cut the ribbon and Rabbi Alfred Goodman of B’nai Israel gave the opening prayer.  Rabbi Jacob Agus of Baltimore gave the keynote address in a ceremony that included the singing of both “America” and “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem.