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Rabbi Yaakov Raphael Cohen

June 22nd, 2012 · 5 Comments

Rabbi Yaakov Raphael Cohen

יעקב רפאל ב"ר הכהן

Minister, Congregation Mikveh Israel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Death: Mon. September 9, 1811 - Elul 20 5571

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Cemetery Details
823 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
United States

Phone: 215-922-5446
Contact: Louis Kessler


Cemetery Map:

Notes: Visits to this cemetery are by appointment only. Call or email the Mikveh Israel office for an appointment and expect to pay $25. Main Office and Archives & Artifacts 44 N. 4th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106-2197

Directions to Kever: The Spruce Street Cemetery in Philadelphia is owned and managed by Congregation Mikveh Israel. Visits to this cemetery are by appointment only. Call or email the Mikveh Israel office for an appointment and expect to pay $25.

Biographical Notes:

American ḥazzan; believed to have been born in the Barbary States; died in Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 1811. Cohen lived in London, England, during the earlier years of his life. He is known to have been in Quebec, and also in New Orleans, in 1777. He was the minister of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, Shearith Israel, of Montreal, Canada, from 1778 to 1782. In the latter year, Cohen was elected minister of the Sephardic synagogue of New York. He lived there until 1784, when he accepted the appointment of ḥazzan of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation of Philadelphia, Pa.
Cohen married Rebekah Luria, of a family which had lost more than one of its members through the Spanish Inquisition. He left descendants in Philadelphia. After Cohen’s death his son, Abraham Hyman Cohen, acted as reader for a time.
Source: Jewish Encyclopedia

Note: Prior to the 1900’s, the Chazan or Minister of a congregation was the central rabbinic figure. Wedding sermonizes, divorces, circumcision, est. were all the function of the Chazan.

Credit: Mikveh Israel

Tags: Pennsylvania · Philadelphia, PA · Pre 1900

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 YD Miller // Jun 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm


  • 2 YD Miller // Jun 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    His son was Rabbi Abraham Chaim Cohen of Richmond, VA, it appears that his Matzieve is inscribed in Hebrew only here is the translation:

    (Translation of Hebrew)
    The priests shall bless Israel.
    A man of fine spirit, merciful, noble and large hearted, full of wisdom and
    understanding and God-fearing. His hands were always open for righteousness;
    their works were good. The good and evil he received with love. He was buried
    with the songs of Israel.
    Abraham Hyam Cohen
    departed this life Shebat 6501
    (February 1841) and was buried with his fathers.

    from here:

  • 3 Farshlufen // Jul 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Opinion on Cohanim, in handwriting of Abraham H. Cohen, son of hazan Cohen of Philadelphia

  • 4 Ben Bee Zee // Dec 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Rabbi Cohen was the first ordained Rabbi in Canada where he came in 1778 serving the Sephardic Congregation before he was called to Philadelphia

  • 5 Gail // Oct 3, 2015 at 3:06 am

    This is in error. Abraham Cohen my 4 greats grandfather, was born in
    Canada, butied was his father Jacob Raphael Cohen who was first Rabbi in Canada. Abraham married Sarah Jeanett Picken, whose mother was an English aristocrat who eloped to America (Manhatten) with Andrew Picken. SJ wrote a book, Henry Luria, which you can get from google books for about $8.00. After their son Henry Luria (after whom the book is named) died at about 8 years old, the couple divorced. ONe of their daughters remained Jewish and the other three became Anglicans.

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