Romi Cohn

Romi Cohn (born Avraham Hakohen Cohn; March 10, 1929 – March 24, 2020) was a Czechoslovakian-born American rabbi, mohel, and real estate developer.[1][2]

Romi Cohn
Avraham Hakohen Cohn

(1929-03-10)March 10, 1929
DiedMarch 24, 2020(2020-03-24) (aged 91)

Early lifeEdit

Avraham Hakohen Cohn was born on March 10, 1929 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. He was one of seven children.[3]

World War II and the HolocaustEdit

During World War II, most Slovak Jews were deported to concentration camps. While Cohn's family managed to sneak him into Hungary, his mother, as well as two of his brothers and two of his sisters died in camps. In Hungary, Cohn studied in a Hasidic yeshiva until 1944 when the Nazis occupied the country. At that point, at the age of 15, he escaped back into Slovakia and joined a partisan brigade fighting the Nazis. As a partisan, he provided Jewish refugees with housing and false Christian identifications.[3] Through his efforts, he was able to save 56 families.[3][dubious ]


After the war, Cohn emigrated to the U.S. He "became wealthy developing thousands of single-family homes on Staten Island" and "turned himself into an expert mohel, performing thousands of circumcisions and writing scholarly articles."[3]

On January 29, 2020, at the invitation of his congressman Max Rose, Cohen delivered the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.[4][5]


As a mohel, Cohn "set up an operating theater in his Staten Island home to circumcise adult Russian Jews who had not been able to undergo the ritual as infants because of Soviet strictures."[3]

In almost all of the circumcisions Cohn performed, he practiced the ancient controversial practice of metzitzah b'peh in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the circumcision wound to draw blood away from the cut.[6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

In the U.S., Cohn married Malvine Geldzahler. They had no children.[3] Cohn died on March 24, 2020, at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York of respiratory distress caused by pneumonia and COVID-19.[3]


  1. ^ "Rabbi Romi Cohn, Holocaust survivor and rescuer, dies of coronavirus at 92". JTA.
  2. ^ "NYC Rabbi 'Romi' Cohn, a Holocaust survivor, dies of coronavirus complications at 91". CNN. March 26, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Romi Cohn Saved 56 Jewish Families. Coronavirus Took His Life". The New York Times. March 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "Holocaust survivor to deliver US House prayer noting 75th year of Auschwitz liberation". JNS. January 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "Holocaust survivor from S.I. delivers opening prayer in House after Rep. Rose invite". Staten Island Advance. January 30, 2020.
  6. ^ "Denouncing City's Move to Regulate Circumcision". The New York Times. September 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "Mayor de Blasio and Rabbis Near Accord on New Circumcision Rule". The New York Times. January 14, 2015.