Cohon foundation to honor Wiesenthal Center’s Cooper

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, will be honored with the Rabbi Samuel S. and A. Irma Cohon Memorial Foundation Award at Temple Emanu-El’s Shabbat service on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The annual award honors individuals for outstanding service to the entire Jewish people in the areas of rescue, unity, education or the creative arts. Previous winners have qualified in one or another of these areas.This year for the first time we welcome a winner who qualifies in all four, said Rabbi Baruch Cohon, the foundation’s chief financial officer. The Cohon Award comes with a $40,000 cash gift to the recipient.

Among Cooper’s accomplishments are his rescue efforts for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s, and his nearly 30 years of work with the late Simon Wiesenthal, one of the most influential survivors of the Holocaust.Along with the Wiesenthal Center’s dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, he established the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which hosts thousands of young students and adult visitors each year. Cooper is now building a companion museum in Jerusalem. His other educational efforts include co-producing live exhibitions and film documentaries on Anne Frank and other Holocaust subjects, serving as editor of Response Magazine, and publishing editorials in leading newspapers in America, Europe and Asia.

Cited by Newsweek magazine in 2007 as among the most influential rabbis in the United States, Cooper is frequently in the news for his negotiations with heads of state and U.N. officials. He’s met with the president of Sudan, the king of Jordan and the former Grand Mufti of Egypt, and fostered new dialogues in Japan, South Korea, China and India. At the Vatican he recently opened a UNESCO exhibit that he designed on Jewish history, values and connection to Israel, commemorating 50 years of positive Catholic-Jewish relations.

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon of Temple Emanu-El serves as president of the Cohon Memorial Foundation, named for his grandparents, and will present the award. “Rabbi Cooper is a shining example of a man providing extraordinary service to the Jewish people,” he said. “His energy, creativity, and dedication to improving the understanding of Judaism by others, and to advancing religious understanding, serve as a model for all Jews.”