Dr. Morris N. Cohen

Dr. Morris N. Cohen (1898-1998)
Inducted into Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Greater Hartford, 1984

Morris Cohen was born in Poland in 1898 and arrived in the United States in 1900. His father was a shochet and rabbi, first in Torrington, then in Hartford after about 1910. Dr. Cohen graduated from Tufts Dental School in 1922 and specialized as a periodontist. He was active in politics and represented Bloomfield in the Connecticut State Legislature from 1961 to 1977, as well as serving on the Bloomfield Town Council and Board of Education.
Cohen played basketball throughout his high school, college, and early career days, playing for Hartford Public High, Tufts University, and for the Hartford YMHA, where he was part of a championship team in 1923. He also managed and coached for the YMHA basketball teams. Later in his life, he spearheaded the creation of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Greater Hartford in 1982, and the Morris N. Cohen Youth Athletic Award is given in his memory.

Excerpts from an oral history where Morris reminisces about Jews and sports:

“In other words, we learned, as we knew long before that, that if you were a Jew, you had a tough time to make the team. You had to out-play and prove and, even if you proved it, they often wouldn’t do it. The coach knew we were better, but he wouldn’t play us.”

“We used to play Monday nights and every Monday night that gym was packed. The Jewish people used to follow the sports tremendously. They were proud of their players and the YMHA team was a team with a great reputation.”

“As I see it, we were the children of the first group of immigrants that came from Europe at the turn of the century and, through athletics, we made a name for ourselves, and we became citizens of the community and established ourselves so that perhaps the future generations could succeed where we left off. It sort of laid the groundwork for many of the successful professional people that are now the children of our children and I think we made a contribution and I think we began to create a spirit and an era where the rest of the community looked upon the Jews in a better light, not as some strangers who had come to America. We became somewhat, certainly more accepted by the rest of the community.”

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