Galveston in Galveston County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Rabbi Henry Cohen
Called the "First Citizen of Texas" by U. S. President Woodrow Wilson, Rabbi Henry Cohen, an internationally known humanitarian, was born in London, England. He came to Galveston in 1888 as spiritual leader of congregation B'Nai Israel and served for 64 years until his death.
In 1889 he married Mollie Levy (1862-1951) and they had two children. After the disastrous storm of 1900, Texas Governor Joseph D. Sayers appointed Rabbi Cohen to head the Central Relief Committee. From 1907 until World War I he helped shiploads of immigrants become settled in cities around the country. During World War I he was instrumental in influencing Congress to provide Jewish naval chaplains. Appointed to the Texas Prison Board by Governor Dan Moody, Rabbi Cohen introduced measures for more humane treatment of prisoners. He assisted New York slum residents in moving south. He fought for social justice for persons of all races and creeds. He helped foster the spirit of brotherhood and interfaith goodwill existing in Galveston today.
When Rabbi Cohen died, the Commissioners Court of Galveston County called him one of this country's greatest
Erected 1980 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 8236.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Churches & Religion.
Location. 29° 18.183′ N, 94° 47.405′ W. Marker is in Galveston, Texas, in Galveston County. Marker can be reached from Moody Avenue south of Winnie Street, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located on the Galveston County Courthouse grounds, directly in front of the courthouse, at the center of the courthouse plaza, facing Moody Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 722 Moody Avenue, Galveston TX 77550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Rt. Rev. Monsignor James Martin Kirwin (here, next to this marker); Galveston County Communities (a few steps from this marker); Norris Wright Cuney (a few steps from this marker); Dignified Resignation (a few steps from this marker); Exploration (a few steps from this marker); George Campbell Childress (a few steps from this marker); [Galveston County] 1901-1965 (within shouting distance of this marker); [Galveston County] Early History (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galveston.
More about this marker. Marker is significantly weathered and difficult to read.
Also see . . .
1. Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbi Henry Cohen.
He was the dean of Lone Star rabbis. The chief rabbi of Texas. Not that such a position exists, but during six decades in Galveston, Rabbi Henry Cohen grew into that role. Texas shaped and seasoned his style. Serving in Galveston from 1888 to 1952, this Londoner with a puckish flair and an unshakable faith in God became the epitome of a twentieth-century Lone Star rabbi—a pastor to all the people (he saved a Greek Catholic from deportation); a defender of Judaism (he banished Shakespeare’s Shylock from the Galveston public schools); a partner to the Christian clergy (his best friend was a priest); and a lobbyist from City Hall to Capitol Hill. (Submitted on June 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Texas Originals: Rabbi Henry Cohen.
For many years, he could be seen pedaling around Galveston on a bicycle, a list of people to visit—prisoners, the poor, the sick—scribbled on his shirt cuff. Born in London, Cohen served congregations in Jamaica and Mississippi before arriving in Galveston in 1888. His home at 1920 Broadway became known as a place where needy people of any religion could seek help. He wrote books on Texas Jewish history in his spare time. When the 1900 hurricane demolished most of the city and left thousands dead, Cohen sprang into action, delivering food and medical supplies in a mule-drawn wagon. (Submitted on June 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Henry Cohen (1863–1952).
After the Galveston hurricane of 1900 Cohen served as a member of the Central Relief Committee, which kept law and order with the help of shotguns and ministered to people of all religions. He helped immigrants who arrived at the port of Galveston to find homes in less populated areas and families in the New York slums to move to various regions of the South and Midwest. He helped to establish Galveston's Jewish Immigrant Information Bureau in 1907 and later distributed relief for Mexican immigrants. (Submitted on June 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 8, 2018. It was originally submitted on June 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 163 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.