Rav Henoch Cohen zt”l

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rav Henoch Cohen zt”l, longtime leader of Chinuch Atzmai.

Rav Henoch spent decades working with gedolei Yisroel, led by Rav Aharon Kotler, in the battle for the souls, faith and religiosity of Jewish children in the Holy Land.

Rav Henoch was a treasure trove of enthralling stories about the painstaking efforts and labor that the gedolei Yisroel, who carried on their shoulders the immense responsibility of guarding pure Yiddishe chinuch, invested in this sacred task.

Alongside these gedolim and tzaddikim, there was a long line of enthusiastic and dedicated activists who dedicated their lives for the community and for the individual. But without a doubt, the central and dominant figure in this whole operation was Rav Henoch.

Survivors of the Holocaust began arriving in Eretz Yisroel at the same time as the huge aliyahs from the Eastern countries began to come in, and it was obvious that there was a need to act quickly and with absolute determination to save their children for Torah and Judaism, for on the other side, the secular parties were doing everything in their power to bring the children under their influence.The government put up enormous obstacles, including a complex bureaucracy.

The burden of founding Chinuch Atzmai fell on the shoulders of Rav Aharon Kotler, who felt a tremendous sense of responsibility for what was happening in Eretz Hakodesh. To this end, he enlisted the aid of the Kapytshnitzer Rebbe, Rav Moshe Feinstein, philanthropists, community activists, and anyone who was able to help, for this sacred task.

And he also brought in Rav Henoch Cohen.

He asked Rav Henoch to come and help out for a short time, but those few months turned out to be more than 50 years. During that time, Rav Henoch did everything. Rav Henoch took Rav Aharon wherever he asked to go and Rav Henoch collected large amounts of money and sent it to Israel.

In those days, Rav Cohen was a talmid at Yeshivas Torah Vodaas. The rosh yeshiva, Rav Gedaliah Schorr, asked Rav Henoch to go to California with Rav Simcha Wasserman and establish a Torah center there. He chose ten bochurim, ten of his foremost talmidim, and sent them there. Rav Henoch was asked by his rosh yeshiva to organize the opening of the mesivta and that is how Yeshiva Or Elchonon was set up in California.

Rav Henoch was still a bochur, but when the rosh yeshiva appointed him for that sacred mission, he took it upon myself. Rav Henoch opened the mesivta with 14 bar-mitzvah-age boys and Rav Henoch taught them Gemara. Rav Henoch was there for two and a half years, and it was just before Pesach when Rav Henoch went home to New York. His mother asked his to stay in town until Elul for shidduch purposes, because in those days the journey from New York to California was very long.

One week after Pesach, Rav Henoch got a call from Rav Aharon Kotler. Rav Aharon had a talmid, R’ Yaakov Weisberg, who had known Rav Henoch from childhood, and he was the one who recommended to Rav Aharon that Rav Henoch be asked to join the Chinuch Atzmai operation. Rav Aharon followed his recommendation and telephoned Rav Henoch, saying that since he had heard that Rav Henoch was going to stay at least until Elul, and since they were planning to host the first dinner for Chinuch Atzmai, he would like Rav Henoch to join the operation for three months to help organize the dinner.

The dinner was supposed to take place a few days after Sukkos, but in the end it was delayed and was held in Teves, 5716. But for Rav Henoch, the “delay” went on for a good many years more — which turned into a yovel.

From then until his last years, Rav Henoch carried the massive burden of responsibility as director and representative of Chinuch Atzmai in America, a role he filled with great dedication as well as with enormous success.

From that first dinner, the system of collecting donations for Chinuch Atzmai moved into high gear. Whereas in those days they might send ten thousand dollars a month to enable the teachers and rabbeim to be paid, it was not long before the scope of the aid and donations took on very significant proportions.

The entire burden of raising those dollars that were sent to Israel every month was on Rav Aharon’s shoulders and Rav Henoch was his right hand, his dedicated emissary.

Rav Henoch accrued tremendous zechusim throughout his lifetime, and he goes to the Olam Ha’emes with the Torah and mitzvos of thousands of Jewish children to his credit.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. ברוך דיין האמת
    How old was he? He was predeceased by his one and only son Mordechai several years ago. יהי זכרם ברוך

  2. One of Rav Henoch’s brother-in-laws (his sister’s husband) was Rav Nissim Wolpin, ZT’L, who was also a great
    Marbitz Torah in his position of being for several decades the editor of the Torah publication “The Jewish Observer” magazine. I was privileged to be by both Rav Henoch and Rav Nissim for many, many meals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and thus experienced first hand their extraordinary Hachnossas Orchim. Rav Nissim told me that he had been part of that group with Rav Henoch who had went to Los Angeles to help start the Ohr Elchonon Yeshiva.

    • At a Agudah gathering in Los Angeles many years ago I sat across the table of Rav Nissim Wolpin, ZT”L. I had no idea who he was until he was introduced from the podium. When the speaker finished his remarks I leaned across the table and told Rav Wolpin that of all those assembled here tonight I had spent more time with him than any individual present. He looked bewildered and asked me my name. When I told him my name he still couldn’t remember that I was the troublemaker in Rav Geldzahler’s Yeshiva in Queens (then called Torah Vodaas) and he was the principal whose office I was sent to almost every day! We both had a good laugh along with the others at the table who listened in.

  3. BDE. I remember clearly when R’ Henoch used to come into our Bais Yaakov of Boro Park classroom himself over 50 years ago to distribute Chinuch Atzmai pushkas and to enthusiastically tell us about Chinuch Atzmai. Amazing that he was still involved with Chinuch Atzmai so many years later. Yes, he certainly accrued so many zechusim.

  4. he was son-in-law of r’ eliyahu mordechai zonnenfeld, youngest son of Harav yosef chaim zt”l which came about on a trip to eretz yisroel for chinuch atzmoi

  5. Rav Henoch’s brother-in-law (his sister’s husband) was Rav Nissim Wolpin, ZT’L, who also played a great role in Harbotzes Torah with being for several decades the editor of the Torah periodical, “The Jewish Observer” magazine. As for a short time I worked at the Agudas Yisroel office, I got to know Rav Nissim and through him, Rav Henoch. They both had me for many, many Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, so I saw first hand their fantastic Hachnossas Orchim. Rav Nissim told me that he had been in that group who had went with Rav Henoch to Los Angeles to help start the Ohr Elchonon Yeshiva.

  6. Ohr Elchonon was the very first Yeshiva that my parents, A’H, and I visited, and we were quite impressed by it and especially by its Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Elazar Simcha Wasserman, ZT’L. The Yeshiva’s brochure noted that it was affiliated with Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland and Torah Vodaas in New York. Reading this biography of Rav Henoch here today though, is the first time that I learned that Rav Gedaliah Schorr, ZT’L, was directly involved in Ohr Elchonon’s establishment.

  7. can they can they dare say Devorim 21:7 for the  latest round of of infections and tragedies
    All those who avoid wearing masks etc

    for even the most remotest possibility


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