Samuel CohonSamuel S. Cohon, 1888-1959, was a rabbi, professor, author, and guide to two generations of American Jewish leaders. Born in Russia, educated in the Yeshivos of Berezin and Minsk to the age of 16, he immigrated to America where he chose Reform as the Jewish expression most suited to the new country. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College ( in 1912, he served congregations in Springfield Ohio and Chicago Illinois until 1923 when he was called back to Cincinnati to accept the chair of Jewish Theology at HUC. For the next 33 years, he taught theology and liturgy there, and for the last three years of his life at the Los Angeles campus. His books on Judaism include What we Jews Believe, Judaism a Way of Life, Jewish Theology, Religious Affirmations, Essays in Jewish Theology, and many monographs: Judaism and War, Why Do The Heathen Rage?, etc. He also represented Jewish religious scholarship to Christian America, and he championed the Jewish people against its intellectual and religious enemies. While he taught Reform rabbinical students, he always told them: "In the term Reform Judaism, always remember that reform is only the adjective; Judaism is the noun." Unique among his colleagues, he was accepted by all Jewish groups - religious and secular, Orthodox and Reform, Zionist and anti-Zionist. He lived his ahavas yisroel - love for his people. His love for his own children and grandchildren was unbounded.

Irma Cohon, 1890-1991, lived a century of dedication, to her G-d and her country, her people and her Irma Cohonprinciples, and most of all to her family. Born in Portland Oregon, she taught in a one-room country school at the age of 18, saved her money and with her parents' blessing - but without any financial support - she went to Cincinnati with a dream to become the first female rabbi. She did enter the Hebrew Union College, but never got ordained. She met the love of her life and became his wife. Throughout his career she worked alongside him. In Chicago she was known affectionately as the Rebbetzin. She ran the school, helped the teenagers, listened to people's troubles. And developed a powerful devotion to Jewish Music. Not a musical performer herself, she lectured on the subject and wrote a book based on her lectures. In later years she established Publications for Judaism and issued several musical publications of a Jewish nature. When her son was a child, she taught him his general subjects with all the rigor of the one-room schoolhouse, and saw to it that he learned Judaica from his father and musical skills from expert cantors. Surviving her husband by some 30 years, she devoted that time to editing and publishing his manuscripts. Her grandchildren remember her love, her originality and her strength, all of which she lavished on them.

Baruch J. Cohon and Claire S. Cohon treasured the legacy of his parents Samuel and Irma Cohon, just as they did that of Claire's parents Louis and Dora Stollman, for whom they established a different memorial. From their marriage in 1950 and throughout their parents' lives, they were blessed with family closeness and love. That feeling lives on and motivates this foundation, even after Claire's lamented passing in August 2019. Joining in this activity are their own children who value their grandparents' share in their lives. One of them, Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon of Tucson, bears his grandfather’s name and follows his calling. He serves as President of the Foundation.

Although they were associated with specific organizations, both Samuel and Irma Cohon always valued the individual over the label, and the welfare of total Jewry over that of any part. In that spirit, this Foundation will consider applications and recommendations concerning individuals only. If more than one individual works on a project, they may combine for one award. An institution or organization, however, is not eligible.