She'ar Yashuv Cohen - Political and Public Office

Political and Public Office

Cohen holds an honors degree in Law from the law faculty of Hebrew University. He specialized in legal advice on rabbinic rulings. He researched Israeli law and its harmonization with the laws relating to the Land of Israel. Afterwards, he served as the deputy mayor of Jerusalem in the Mafdal (NRP) party, and continued in this role after the city was unified in the Six Day War in 1967.

Several years after the death of Yehoshua Kaniel in 1975, Cohen replaced him as Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Haifa. He is also President of the Harry Fischel Institute for Talmudic Research and Torah Law. He founded the Midrasha HaGevoha LaTorah ("Advanced Torah Institute") and the Ariel Institute in Jerusalem. In 1983 and 1993, he was a candidate for position of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. He is a senior rabbinical adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He was the president of the Jerusalem Lodge of Bnai Brith, and of the Bnai Tsion "Sons of Zion" association in Israel. He was elected twice as President of the Jewish Law Association, and three consecutive times as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Haifa. In 1999 Bar-Ilan University conferred upon him an honorary doctorate. When Rabbi Cohen reached the age of 80, the City Council of Haifa unanimously conferred upon him the title: "Honorary Citizen."

Several years ago, the Jerusalem D.A. summoned Rabbi Cohen to a hearing in connection with the alleged improper running of "Jewish Studies" courses for members of the police and other security personnel. These courses had been conducted for several years in Jerusalem under the auspices of institutes presided over by the former Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu. At the request of the then Chief Chaplain of the Northern Command of the Police, the Ariel Institutes of Haifa, under the presidency of Rabbi Cohen, agreed to host a parallel program for those living and serving in the northern part of the country. While the D.A. did not consider Rabbi Cohen to have been involved in the running of the program, he reprimanded him for having allowed the Ariel Institutes to grant a scholarship to the Yeshiva student son of the inatiator and head of the Haifa program, labeling it as a bribe. Rabbi Cohen did not wish to go to a court of law to contend the allegation, particularly since he was already well over the mandatory age of retirement. The D.A. agreed not to press charges, on condition that the Rabbi would officially announce his retirement. He is now Chief Rabbi Emeritus.

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