A brief biography
Rabbi Cohen's father (the late Louis Cohen) was the founding treasurer of the Broughton Jewish Primary School in Manchester, which he and a group of friends opened in 1948. The young Jeffrey Cohen left his local non-Jewish school to become one of eight pupils who entered the school at its inception. It is still a most thriving and highly regarded school.
After gaining his scholarship (11+), he went to the Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and throughout his years there he attended - every evening and Sunday morning - the Manchester Yeshivah. He - and a Gloria Goldberg - was very active in Manchester Bnei Akivah, and both were madrichim at camps.
After attending Gateshead Yeshivah full time for three and a half years he enrolled at Jews' College in 1959. In 1963 he gained a first class honours degree, on the basis of which he was awarded a London University State Studentship to do full-time research for his Ph.D. As he was about to get married he declined that prestigious award, accepting instead the invitation of Hampstead Garden Suburb for him to become their Assistant Minister (to the late Dayan M. Lew) and Youth Minister.
He enjoyed five wonderful years there, which also saw the arrival of their first two children, Harvey and Suzanne. While at the Suburb, he was appointed lecturer in Bible and Bible Commentaries at Jews' College, and also completed his Master of Philosophy degree and Minister's Diploma.
In 1967 he left London and returned to Manchester as Director of Jewish Studies and Hebrew Education at the King David Schools. Their second daughter, Judith, was born there. However, the job did not give him the satisfaction and challenge that he expected, and in 1970 he accepted a 'call' to Newton Mearns Synagogue in Glasgow. In addition, while there, he served as lecturer in Modern Hebrew Literature at the University of Glasgow, Director of the Glasgow Board of Jewish Education and Principal of the Glasgow Hebrew College. He also gained a Ph.D from the University for a 500-page thesis on Samaritan history and philology, which was subsequently published. Their youngest son, Lewis, was born in Glasgow.
With the passing of the Rev Dr I K Cosgrove and the retirement of the Av Bet Din, Dayan W. Gottlieb, Dr. Cohen found himself as the principal rabbi of the community at the young age of 33 years, and was elected rabbinical adviser to the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council. He represented the community at the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations, appeared on television and gave the annual Pesach and Rosh Hashanah broadcasts on BBC Scotland. He began to be a regular contributor to the Jewish Chronicle, as well as to the local Jewish Echo.
By 1980 their two older children were in need of a more rarefied Jewish education - there being no Jewish secondary schools - as well as a more exciting Jewish religious social life. Although they were very happy and fulfilled in Glasgow, they made the decision to accept the 'call' of the Kenton Synagogue. While serving that community he prepared himself for semichah under the private tutelage of the late and illustrious Rav Ordman, head of the Etz Chaim Yeshivah.
Rabbi Dr. Cohen's fifth book, Horizons of Jewish Prayer was published (by the U.S.) in 1986, the year he accepted the 'call' to become Rabbi of Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue. They enjoyed nineteen eventful years at Stanmore, which saw the celebration of Lewis's barmitzvah in the same year as the wedding of Suzanne and Keith, the subsequent weddings of Harvey and Lorraine, Judith and Bob, and Lewis and Suzanne, and the birth of their twelve grandchildren.
It has also been a most productive period from a literary point of view, seeing the publication of a further 13 books, the most recent having been '1001 Questions & Answers on Chanukah' and 'Genesis in Poetry'. The latter (self-published) has proved to be most popular, and Rabbi Jeffrey is in great demand, by schools, synagogue and literary groups, to give poetry readings.
Rabbi Cohen says that Gloria and he enjoyed every minute of their 19 years ministry at Stanmore. Gloria has also felt very fulfilled, and her professional highlight was to see the establishment of the Stanmore Synagogue Community Care, which she initiated and nurtured. She also served as voluntary co-ordinator of the United Synagogue Women’s Chevrah Kadisha for 14 years.
Following the departure of the rabbi of his own Synagogue (Hampstead Garden Synagogue, North West London) in March 2010, Rabbi Cohen agreed to serve as Consultant Rabbi and to undertake some of the regular duties.
Since officially retiring, he and Gloria have also been blessed with the addition of another two grandchildren, bringing the tally up to 14. It's becoming a full-time job!!
All this has rather restricted the amount of time they are able to spend in their flat in Netanya - but their maxim at the moment is, "Better to be too busy than not busy enough!"