(January 27, 2020 / JNS) A 90-year-old rabbi who survived the Holocaust will deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, announced Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) on Monday.
“As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I’m honored to welcome Holocaust survivor and Staten Island resident Rabbi Romi Cohn to offer the opening prayer before the House of Representatives this Wednesday,” said Rose in a statement.
“Rabbi Cohn’s life story is a stark and vivid reminder that not only must we never forget the Holocaust, but we must also learn the lessons from this horrific and evil period to ensure such persecution never happens again,” he continued. “Rabbi Cohn is truly a role model and inspiration to so many, including myself.”
Rabbi Avraham Hakohen “Romi” Cohn was born in 1929 in Pressburg in what was then Czechoslovakia.
In 1942, when the Nazis invaded, his parents managed to smuggle him over the border to Hungary. Cohn attended the Pupa Yeshiva, the elite Torah university at the time.
After the Nazis invaded Hungary two years later, Cohn returned to Czechoslovakia to join the underground. He was just 16 and became instrumental in saving 56 families during the Holocaust. He was later awarded the Silver Star Medal of Honor in recognition of his valor.
Cohn has written a book about his experiences, The Youngest Partisan.
His mother, two sisters and two brothers perished in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
In 1950, he left Eastern Europe for North America—first to Canada and eventually to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he met his wife, Malvine.
He became a rabbi and a mohel who has made a point to train young mohels as well. Cohn is the author of Bris Avraham Hakohen, an internationally recognized text on ritual circumcision, and serves as chairman of the American Board of Ritual Circumcision.
Most recently, he published The Ribnitzer Rebbe, which tells the story of his mentor, Rabbi Chaim Zanvil Abramovitz.
Cohn is also a real estate developer, beginning work in the construction industry when he got to New York. He headed a company that went on to build 3,500 homes in Staten Island.
In recognition of his service to the community, Wagner College on the island awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
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