The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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English financier, politician, and communal worker; born in London 1832; died there June 26, 1887; son of Louis Cohen, founder of the house of Louis Cohen & Sons, foreign bankers and members of the Stock Exchange; of this firm Lionel Louis Cohen became the head in 1882, after having been elected a trustee (1870) and later manager of the Stock Exchange. He retired in 1885 on being elected member of Parliament.

Cohen's financial ability was shown by his services in connection with the Turkish debt, which earned for him a nomination to the order of the Medjidie. A prominent worker in the Conservative cause at a time when the great bulk of Jews were unquestioning adherents of the Liberal party, he caused considerable sensation in 1874 by appealing to Jews to exercise their independent judgment in political affairs. In 1885 he was returned to the House of Commons by the borough of North Paddington, and during his short tenure of his position he served with distinction on the royal commissions on the depression in trade, on gold and silver, and on endowed schools.

Cohen from his early years devoted much time to the service of the community. On entering public life he found the three city synagogues and various societies administering charitable relief in a chaotic and unscientific manner, and took a notable part in the efforts made to remedy the evil. In 1859, when the synagogue vestries agreed, on the motion of Ephraim Alex, overseer of the poor, to delegate their powers to a specially constituted board of guardians, Cohen became its honorary secretary.

His "Scheme for the Better Management of All the Jewish Poor," elaborated in 1860, practically formed the constitution of the board of guardians for the relief of the Jewish poor, the chief charitable institution of the Anglo-Jewish community. In 1878 he was elected president of the board, and filled that office till his death. He gave in all 28 years of unremitting service to the institution, which under his inspiration earned recognition as a great and model charity within and beyond the community.

Cohen also took the leading share in the movement which, after many years of labor, culminated in the federation by Act of Parliament in 1870 of the Great, the Hambro', and the New synagogues under the title of "The United Synagogue." He presided over the first meeting of its council, of which he was elected a vice-president, and was the ruling spirit and master mind of the organization, which during his lifetime grew into a corporation of eleven metropolitan congregations and the most influential body of its kind in the British empire.

In 1881 he initiated the movement in favor of the persecuted Russian Jews, and raised the first fund in England for their relief.

Cohen wrote a pamphlet on Indian railways, was a frequent contributor to the Jewish journals, and wrote the masterly series of reports of the board of guardians during his tenure of office as honorary secretary of that institution. The series of statistical tables started by him in these reports has ever since formed a model for similar compilations.

J. M. A. Gr.
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