Danielle Minson — How You Help
Why I Give: I Saw Dachau
Federation: Why did you start giving to the Federation back in 1945?
Philip T. Cohen: My brother and I watched our parents giving every day to the pushke [a tzedakah box for saving money for charity]. When times were good, when times were bad.
I was an engineering officer in a fighter crew. When the war ended in Europe our outfit got sent home. Then I got a call that a general was coming to see me. His first words to me were: “I have an operation in headquarters in the General Command, I have been looking at your record.” I volunteered.
I went to headquarters in Munich. One of the first things I did was walk through Dachau. It was clear to me what had happened to the Jewish people there.
I came home in September 1945 as a Major. One of the first things I did upon my return was to give to the Federation.
So you continued to give?
I continued to give, and I continued as a board member of Federation. I worked a lot on committees, I chaired the campaign in 1968, and I became the president of Federation in 1982. So this was a continuous thing for me.
Why is it important to you to give?
I’ve been to Israel seven times. One of the trips I went with David Mann, and we went with the Israeli army all the way to Lebanon to the airport in Beirut. Some months later we went back, and we went again into Lebanon, and we could see all the Syrian tanks in the Bekaa Valley.
So all these things were necessary to me and I wanted to help Israel, as well as the Cincinnati Jewish community. I was involved in every campaign and every agency except two in the Jewish community.
We’ve continued to give. I’m 97 years old and my wife is 95, and we don’t know what the future holds, but we continue to give.
Thank you so much. Last question: what would you say to young Jewish Cincinnatians about why giving to a cause you care about is important?
It is important for the young Jewish community to know that for Judaism to survive we all have to pitch in and do what we can to help Jews around the world.
At 97 years old, Philip T. Cohen is the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s longest continuous donor and oldest member of the Federation’s Silver Circle Society, supporters who have given to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati for 25 years or more. He started giving in 1945, after his return from World War II. In 73 years he has never missed a year.
Born in Cincinnati at the old Bethesda Hospital in Avondale, Cohen graduated from Middletown High School in 1937, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s Mechanical Engineering Program in 1942, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. In 1948, he married Helene, a lifelong member of Rockdale Temple. Cohen joined Rockdale that same year, then joined the board in 1956, serving as its president from 1965-1967. You can see him talk about the history of Rockdale Temple.
Thank you to Philip T. Cohen for donating to people in need, and for helping to kick off our “Why I Give” series as one of our oldest donors.
Our community gives back with incredible generosity every day: see the whole Why I Volunteer/ Why I Give series here.
To learn more about volunteering with or giving to the Jewish Federation please check out our website or contact Debra Miller (513-985-1508 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community. We are never clearer than when hearing from those who volunteer and those who give, that together we can do almost anything.