Naomi Cohen, a pioneering scholar of American Jewish history who was one of the first women professors of Jewish studies, has died at 91.
Cohen studied at Hunter College, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, where she wrote her doctoral thesis with the Jewish historian Salo Baron and the American historian William Leuchtenburg.
Cohen was one of the first female scholars in the newly recognized field of Jewish studies.
She was appointed assistant professor of history at Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1962 and by 1973 was named a full professor. Cohen also was on the faculty of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and of the Jewish Theological Seminary. She retired in 1996 and moved to Israel.
Cohen’s research focused on two main areas: 20th-century American history and American Jewish history.
Her extensive publications include “Not Free to Desist: The American Jewish Committee, 1906–1966,” published in 1972; “American Jews and the Zionist Idea,” published in 1975; “The Year After the Riots: American Responses to the Palestine Crisis of 1929-1930,” published in 1988; and “The Americanization of Zionism, 1897-1948,” published in 2003.
Her books “Encounter with Emancipation,” published in 1984; and “Jews in Christian America: The Pursuit of Religious Equality,” published in 1992 and considered a seminal work on church-state separation in the United States, received the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish History.
Cohen was married to Rabbi Gerson Cohen, the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary from 1972 to 1986, who died in 1991. She is survived by a son and a daughter, and grandchildren. PJC