Jack J. Cohen, who served as chairman of the Allied Jewish Appeal of South Jersey (now known as the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey) some 30 years ago, died at age 87 on July 26.
Head of the longtime family-run former Cohen Dry Goods Co. in Pennsauken, N..J., native Philadelphian Cohen had lived in Boynton Beach, Fla., for the past 12 years after heading south to Boca Raton from Cherry Hill, N.J., 25 years ago.
It was at the Woodcrest Country Club where he served as president some 40 years ago — and had a reputation as a talented duffer — that his interest in raising funds for Israel — which a number of members were doing — was first sparked.
As for that interest in golf — going for the green took on new meaning when he headed up Project Renewal in Jersey, raising funds to help send U.S.. golfers to participate in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Indeed, his humanitarian interests — as well as adeptness at fundraising and raising awareness of Israel’s needs — led to multiple honors and acclaim. Israel Bonds accorded him its Masada Award and B’nai B’rith its Presidents Award while he led AJA’s seminal Presidents Mission headed for Israel.
His mission to help Israel and those in the South Jersey community was apparent, says Stuart Alperin, who knew Cohen in the ’70s, when Alperin served as executive director of the South Jersey JCC. Recalling Cohen as “generous” and “committed,” Alperin describes the late communal leader “as the kind of fellow who didn’t just speak about helping, but followed through.”
Best way to characterize him? “He was a mensch.”
In Boca Raton Cohen took a major interest in the city’s Lynn University, which he helped as a fundraiser and volunteer.
“He and Dick Young, the school’s athletic director, became very good friends — they played tennis together — and Dick asked if he’d like to get involved with the school,” recalls Cohen’s wife of 31 years, Jo Anna.
To that end Cohen became president of the Blue and White Club, the school’s athletic booster club.
No surprise there, says his wife: “My husband was very sports-oriented. He had a passion for the Eagles, the Flyers — he never forgot his roots in Philadelphia — and when he moved” to Florida, that extended to Miami’s Heat and Dolphins.
In addition to his wife, Cohen is survived by two former wives, Marilyn Gray and Judith Cohen; two daughters, Nancy Forman and Alix Danowitz; two sons, Jeffrey and Mitchell; and a grandchild.
Donations in his name may be sent through: www.lynnfightingknights.com .