by Yechiel Frish and Yedidya HaCohen
Translated by Dr. Irene Lancaster
Published by Urim Publications
Hardcover, 334 pages
Series: Modern Jewish Lives - volume 5
Although mainly known as the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen (1927–2016) has lived an intriguing life, playing an important role in the establishment of the State of Israel.
As the son of Rabbi David Cohen (1887-1972), the legendary Nazirite of Jerusalem, Rabbi Cohen grew up among some of Israel's greatest rabbis. Destined to become a Nazirite until the age of sixteen, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen studied under the influence of Rav Kook.
During the 1948 War of Independence, Rabbi Cohen fought to defend the Old City of Jerusalem, until he was severely wounded and taken to Jordan as a prisoner of war.
After his return he became Chief Rabbi of the Israel Air Force, and then governed as the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem with Teddy Kollek. Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen took special pride in founding and developing the Ariel branch of the Harry Fischel Institute, where he introduced a structured program for the preparation of Community Rabbis and Rabbinical Judges. This was a revolutionary concept in Israel at the time. He accepted the mantle of Chief Rabbi of Haifa (1975–2011) in order to provide an example to his students. At the same time, he also served as President of the Haifa rabbinical courts.
The details of his achievements and captivating life are further encapsulated in excerpts of his diary, which include vivid details of the battles in which he fought, culminating in his imprisonment in Jordan.
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was also a leading rabbinic representative for inter-religious dialogue, first with the Roman Catholic Church and, more latterly, with the Church of England.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Prof. Yechiel Frish is the President of
Michlelet Shaanan (Shaanan College),
a religious teachers’ training college
established in 1951 that is situated on the
outskirts of Haifa. He has held this position
Rabbi Yedidya HaCohen is a disciple
of Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, having
received Semicha ordination from him. He
teaches Talmud and Jewish philosophy,
and is engaged in preparing the writings
of Rabbi Cohen’s revered father, the Rav
haNazir of blessed memory, as well as
Rabbi Cohen’s own works for publication.
Dr. Irene Lancaster was formerly a Fellow
of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and
the Centre for Jewish Studies, Manchester
University, and is the author of a book on
Abraham ibn Ezra. She lectures, translates
and edits for a wide variety of institutions.
ABOUT THE SERIES MODERN JEWISH LIVES:
Many in our generation are unfamiliar
with some of the great Jewish personalities
of recent history. The intention of the
Modern Jewish Lives series is to tell
their stories. These works – penetrating
biographies with a religious heart –
provide readers with an understanding
of and appreciation for the lives of real
people whom we can admire and from
whom we can draw inspiration.
Vol. 1: Rabbi Shlomo Goren:
Torah Sage and General
Vol. 2: Rabbi Haim David Halevy:
Gentle Scholar and Courageous Thinker
Vol. 3: Nehama Leibowitz:
Teacher and Bible Scholar
Vol. 4: Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life,
Mission, and Legacy
Vol. 5: Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen:
Between War and Peace
PRAISE FOR RABBI SHEAR YASHUV COHEN BIOGRAPHY:
“The prophet Micah says: “What does the Lord require of you? You should behave justly, love
chesed (kindness) and walk humbly with your God.” These three attributes have been joined
together in the personality of our very dear friend from Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen….
Rabbi Cohen sits with me on the Bet Din as a dayan, a senior religious judge. His rulings are
always unswervingly just, in accordance with Jewish Law, and he constantly penetrates the
very heart of Torah, without deviating to the right or to the left. He also embodies “love of
chesed,” not only by nurturing countless students, but also by putting himself out to find them
work. He further demonstrates the injunction to love chesed by giving charity to others in such
a way that they do not even know that he has done so.”
– Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz”l, Rishon LeTzion and Chief Rabbi of Israel
“Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was a great and wise man who always strove for the unity of the
Jewish People, just as he worked to bring together various sectors of the population in Haifa,
where he served as Chief Rabbi for over thirty years.
In his life he combined “the book and the sword”.… He fought in the War of Independence…
was wounded in the battle for the Old City of Jerusalem, was a prisoner of war, and subsequently
joined the IDF.
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was a gracious and friendly person… who combined his Torah
learning with acts of loving-kindness.… He left behind him many… students, disciples, and
friends for whom he was a spiritual leader and authority in Jewish law, as well as many profound
and fascinating stories that will continue to remind us of his legacy for generations to come.
May his memory be blessed.”
– Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel
“He was one of the most exceptional public figures of our generation; a man who combined
great learning with the art of intimate conversation. He was a Torah scholar and guiding light
who put the community first in everything he did.”
– Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel
“Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen is a great Torah scholar and a man of deep thought and philosophy.
He encapsulates in his person the combination of two similar-sounding words, halakhot and
halikhot, Jewish law and day-to-day behavior. Unfortunately, for many, these two aspects are
distinct and even contradictory, but in Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen there is no conflict at all
between the two.”
– Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ztz”l, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University