Jewish Chronicle, 20 Jan 1937



The death occurred last Friday at Engadine, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, New South Wales,- in his ninety-fifth year, of Mr George Judah Cohen, the Colonial public worker who was regarded as the ‘doyen’ of Australian Jewry. He was a son of the late Mr Samuel Cohen, MLA, of New South Wales, and was born in Sydney, in April, 1842. His father was one of the founders of a well-known shipping and export business, which was started over a hundred years ago.

George Judah Cohen came to England in 1857, and was educated at University College, London. Early in his career he showed a remarkable aptitude for commerce. After his father’s death in 1861, he returned to Sydney where he assumed charge of the business of Messrs David Cohen & Co., which was one of a trio of firms his father had established. In 1887 he acted as Secretary to the Queen’s Jubilee Fund. He joined the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney in 1885, and in 1901 became its Chairman, a position he held with distinction until his resignation in 1933. He was a Director of the United Insurance Co, Ltd., for fifty years and Chairman of Directors for thirty-one years. He was a former Chairman of the Australian Gas Light Co, the Sydney Exchange Co, and other important enterprises.

The deceased had been a member of the Board of Management of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, for over fifty years, was President of the Congregation about fourteen times and several times its Vice-President, and was an active charitable worker in the local Community of which he was one of the earliest members. Mr Cohen was one of the two nephews to whom the late Mr David Lewis, of Liverpool, bequeathed his fortune, and this was devoted by him to charitable purposes in the North of England. In January, 1936, a signal honour was paid to Mr Cohen on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of the City of West Maitland, New South Wales. Mr S S Cohen, eldest son of the deceased, on behalf of Messrs David Cohen & Co., who have owned property since the establishment of that firm in West Maitland in 1835, handed to the Mayor the deeds of a block of land adjoining the new sports ground, in order to extend a park which the local Council was establishing. In appreciation of the gift of the deceased, the West Maitland Council decided to call the land ‘Cohen Park’.

Mr Cohen was married, in 1868, to a daughter of the late Hon L W Levy, a member of the Legislative Council, and they had six sons and two daughters. On the occasion of his Diamond Wedding he and Mrs Cohen (who was also for many years an active communal worker and predeceased him in 1988), were the recipients of a congratulatory telegram from His late Majesty King George V, and the Commercial Banking Company commissioned Mr George Lambert to paint tho portrait of Mr Cohen for the Banking Chamber at the Head Office in recognition of his distinguished service m.

Jewish Chronicle, 27 Jan 1937


The funeral of the late Mr. Cohen (the ‘grand old man; of Australian Jewry) was one of the largest ever witnessed in Sydney. All sections of the Jewish and general communities were present at a service in the Great Synagogue, where the remains were taken prior to interment at the Rookwood Cemetery. The Service was conducted by Rabbi L A Falk, who delivered an address, and the Rev M Einfeld. The Lieutenant-Governor, the Premier and the Lord Mayor were represented, and thousands of prominent citizens and others followed the cortege. The Chief Rabbi, Dr J H Hertz, sent a cable of sympathy on behalf of the Jewish Community of the British Empire. Messages of sympathy were also received by the family from the Governor-General (Lord Gowrie), the Premier (Mr Stevens) and from friends all over the world. The Premier wrote: ‘The community has suffered a great loss by the death of Mr Cohen. No man was more highly respected; there was no one whose judgment was more eagerly sought in relation to business matters; especially in connection with banking problems, he was an outstanding figure. Both by his private and business life, he has set an example which every citizen should endeavour to emulate’.

[with thanks to Colin Cohen]

Pages linked to this page

Page last modified on January 20, 2013, at 07:56 AM