About 15 years ago, Gersh Cohn started thinking about the knowledge that he had gained in his life, and he wanted to share it with his family. And, so began a series of letters that he sent to his children and grandchildren and sometimes to other relatives and friends.
This year, Cohn decided to throw himself a 100th birthday party — however, he was only turning 95.
“I want to have the 100th now because 1.) I want to be there, and 2.) I want to enjoy it,” he said.
He planned it all himself with one exception: He asked his three children to be in charge of the entertainment.
His daughter, Vicki Pollard, reports that they first thought of reading some of his letters but then decided they would save that for his funeral. Still, they wanted to do something with his writings while he was still alive. The result is a book: “A Wise and Loving Heart … Gershom R. Cohn in His Own Words.”
Pollard had all the letters. Her web-designer husband, Howard Evans, could design the book, and they found a woman who could type everything up. The amanuensis “fell completely in love with my father, whom she had never met,” Pollard says.
That is fitting; Cohn loves love. Sanford Milter, his good friend of 25-plus years, says, “Gersh is a lover; he loves to love and be loved. And he will find the good in anybody. It could be the worst person in the world, and Gersh will find the good in him.”
The concept of an ethical will is to leave something of one’s values and beliefs, not just material possessions. Cohn’s book bequeaths not just his philosophy but his gift of language — and a good dose of his sparkling sense of humor, as well. And, consistent with his strong belief in philanthropy, you can buy the book from Amazon.com … with the proceeds going to the Jewish Housing Council Foundation.
Contact Molly Schechter at [email protected].
In His Own Words …
- On giving: One decent gift is worth 25 prayers in which God is extolled as a supreme being. Giving is loving, and whether you are giving of yourself or your wherewithal, you are extending love to your fellow man.
- On God: … in my opinion, man created God, not vice-versa, because we need a God of all those virtues to inspire us and to which we can aspire.
- On words: Words can hurt, words can heal, words can inspire, words can destroy. Choose your verbiage carefully.
- On love: The greatest value in the world is love. It is the chief ingredient for a happy life, and I thank God (whoever she might be) that we have so much love in our family.