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Haim Cohn

Haim Cohn

Israeli judge
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Israeli judge
Countries Israel
Occupations Educator Lawyer Judge Educator
Gender male
Birth 11 March 1911 (Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)
Death 10 April 2002 (Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel)
Education Goethe University Frankfurt
The details

Haim Herman Cohn (Hebrew: חיים הרמן כהן‎‎, born 11 March 1911, died 10 April 2002) was an Israeli jurist and politician.


Haim Cohn was born in Lübeck, Germany in 1911 to a religious family. He was chairman of a World Agudath Israel branch in Hamburg. In 1930 he immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine and studied at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. He was also a Hazzan in Mea Shearim. He later returned to Germany to study law at Frankfurt University. He returned to Palestine in 1933 as a lawyer and with a PhD in law. In 1936 he was certified as a lawyer and the following year he opened an office in Jerusalem.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, he was appointed manager of the legislation department of the Ministry of Justice, and later became State Attorney. In 1949 he was made CEO of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of Israel a year later. As Attorney General, he decided to indict Malchiel Gruenwald, starting the Rudolf Kastner trial and decided to ignore the (British based) law "and refrained from pressing charges on the conduct of homosexual relations between consenting adults."

In 1952 he was also Minister of Justice, without being an MK. In 1960 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Israel, a position he held until his retirement in 1981.

In addition to his civil service, he was also a visiting lecturer in the Tel Aviv University (from 1956 to 1969) and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (from 1954 to 1976) law schools, a representative of Israel in the United Nations Human Rights Council and a member of the International Court of Justice in Hague. He was a member of the "T'hila" Movement for Israeli Jewish secularism.

He wrote five books, including The Trial and Death of Jesus in 1968, in which he argued that it was the Romans, not the Sanhedrin, who tried and executed Jesus.

He died in 2002. President of the Supreme Court Aharon Barak cited him as one of the founders of Israeli law.

Awards and honors

  • In 1980, Cohn was awarded the Israel Prize in 1980, in jurisprudence.
  • He received honorary doctorates from several American universities, including Georgetown University.

Selected publications

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