Maurice Abraham Cohen
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|Maurice Abraham Cohen|
Cohen was born in the Polish/Ukrainian town of Rava-Ruska to a Polish-Jewish family of Sephardic origin, being a direct descendant of Abraham De Mosso Cohen, the Rabbi who established the Spanish-Jewish community of Zamosc. Maurice Abraham moved to the UK at an early age to be educated at Jews College London. After completing his education he worked as the personal translator for Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of the British Forces in what is now Afghanistan, playing an important role in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. On arriving in Australia he took up a role as the first headmaster of the Jewish Sunday School that had recently been established in Sydney. He went on to be appointed head of the NSW Jewish Board of Education.
He was regarded as a world expert on the language of Urdu during his lifetime. He was one time editor of Sydney's first Jewish weekly newspaper as well as a lecturer on Hebrew at a number of theological colleges in Australia. Maurice Abraham Cohen was fluent and also taught Yiddish, Ladino, Spanish, German, Aramaic, Amharic and Arabic. Maurice Abraham Cohen was one of the first European Australians to call attention to the plight of the Australian Aborigines and argue for compensation and landrights, even risking his position as editor of the "Australian Hebrew" with his fiery opinion pieces on the subject. He also argued for increased non-discriminatory immigration drawing from all cultures and vehemently opposed the White Australia Policy.
- "Mr. Maurice A. Cohen", Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 1923.