Rabbi Armond E. Cohen, who witnessed 72 years of American Jewish history as the rabbi of Park Synagogue, Ohio’s largest Conservative congregation, died Monday, the eve of his 98th birthday.
“For many generations, he represented the strength of institutional Jewish life in Cleveland,” said Joshua Skoff, Park Synagogue’s senior rabbi. “We are still benefiting from his original contribution to Jewish life.”
Cohen was born in Canton, Ohio, and moved to Cleveland at age 9 to live with his grandparents after both his parents died. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and then returned to Ohio, becoming Park Synagogue’s rabbi at age 26.
“He was very strong in his determination for things like civil rights, the State of Israel and interfaith dialogue,” Skoff said.
Throughout his career, Cohen hosted such 20th-century leaders as Golda Meir, Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry Kissinger.
In the 1940s, he initiated the construction of a new 1,000-seat sanctuary and had a summer camp built on the synagogue’s grounds.
In 1983, the National Conference for Community and Justice gave Cohen its highest honor, the National Human Relations Award.