Dec 2000 Journal

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History Rediscovered

An unusual sequence of events led to my acquisition of a slim volume of Jewish history, written in 1936 in German. Having had some success in finding old friends through the Berlin magazine Aktuell, I attempted to trace the son of our late Rabbi in the Grunewald Synagogue, Dr Emil Bernard-Cohn. Two replies from the Rabbi’s daughters, now living in Los Angeles and San Francisco, told me that their brother had died in 1994, but one of them kindly sent me a history of the Jewish people called Von Kanaan nach Israel, written by their father prior to his emigration.

Jews in both biblical times and during Germany’s Third Reich have been extensively chronicled, but comparatively little has been written about the intervening 4,000 years. Cohn’s history covered the Jews in Greek and Roman civilisations, in Babylon and Spain until the expulsion, and in central Europe, in an eminently readable account, translated into English by Hayim Perelmuter and re-published in the USA in 1945. In 1985 Perelmuter wrote additional material about the Jewish people after 1936, including the foundation of the State of Israel.

I believe that no-one has conducted research into the Jewish People and their host cultures as Cohn has done. This little gem, last reprinted by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich, in 1986, is now out of print, but may still be found in specialised libraries.
Rudi Leavor

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