Herbert Cohen — my grandfather — was the son of immigrants. He was born in York, PA on July 2, 1900.
We were close.
Overcoming entrenched anti-Semitic bigotry, he rose up to become a visionary and respected political leader in Pennsylvania and a PA Supreme Court Justice. He was considered to be the leader of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and the architect of the Democrats' return to power in PA. When he died, the Governor had the flag at the State Capitol flown at half mast.
In 1970, he died of a sudden heart attack in the middle of the night.
He had smoked heavily in early adulthood. Tobacco should be illegal.
Herbert Cohen became famous in his 20s.
In his 20s, Herbert Cohen became nationally renown as the public defender in the HEX Murder Trial. A liberal Democrat in conservative York County — who had the guts to not change his Jewish name — he was an unpretentious extrovert who was popular and loved.
At thirty-two Herbert Cohen was elected to the PA Legislature — where he was the Majority Floor Leader for multiple terms.
Mentor to George Leader, Herbert Cohen was Governor-elect Leader's first cabinet pick, becoming the Pennsylvania Attorney General in 1954. As PA Attorney General he hired Bud Rubin, my Father, as a Deputy AG, on the recommendation of my Uncle, Donn Cohen, who was a close college friend of my Father's.
While he was Pennsylvania Attorney General, Herbert Cohen investigated and indicted a number of bad actors for public and private corruption.
He was then appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court where he was Associate Chief Justice. He and another judge had amicably decided who would be Chief Justice and who would be Associate Chief on a coin toss. However, Herbert Cohen would have become Chief Justice had he not suddenly died.
The many eulogies shared at his passing express the breadth and impact of his career — but it is the expression of love and respect for his courage and compassion, and his love for his family, that are the most telling.
Herbert Cohen was viewed as having presidential leadership qualities.
He was a mentor to both George and Henry Leader.
Henry Leader — George's brother — worked for my Grandfather in the PA Department of Justice in the 1950s.
They were golf partners, close friends politically and personally, and close friends of my parents.
The Leader Family took no part in advancing Jane Cohen Rubin's career either in childhood or in adulthood.
However — my Uncle Henry and Aunt Dorrie were family to us. They were often in our middle-class home for dinner and parties. At times, their teenage children were our babysitters.
We were a liberal Jewish Family in South Central Pennsylvania surrounded by bigotry — but we simultaneously had an extended family of open-minded people who contributed to raising us.
Neither myself — nor any member of my Jewish-American family — should have to worry about anti-Semitic bashing — simply for stating autobiographical facts that contributed to the formation of our identities.
Here is an excerpt from Henry's eulogy:
"Herbert Cohen was not a man who valued sham or pretense. In fact, to the contrary, one of his favorites was to put down, prick the balloons of pretense and sham. He was a person of great personal courage. The things that he did to which Mr. Senft made reference were often done at considerable risk, financially as a lawyer, personally as a citizen....He wanted truly to run the Department of Justice better than it had ever been run before and in truth I believe he succeeded."
My grandfather died when I was eight. Obviously, he never directly helped me to accomplish anything or to advance in life, and I never mentioned him to help myself. I avoided the topic.
Additionally, Herbert Cohen was not a materially wealthy man. Both my Grandfather and Dad were middle-class.
We were expected to have a strong work ethic and to advance on our own merits, which I have always done.
Nevertheless — some bigoted people have viewed me as the "jewish princess" granddaughter of Herb Cohen and daughter of Bud Rubin.
The delusional folks who think that are merely bigots and haters.
So — now — I make a point of sharing family history.
When I do — there is often more sarcasm, bigotry, and misogyny.
That is not going to stop me.
There are Gentiles in National, Pennsylvania, and York County politics — and sports, entertainment, and the arts — who actually do come from ultra-rich families. Their careers clearly benefited from their families' wealth, but no one says that they should not be in positions of power. People do not continually smear their accomplishments as being the result of family wealth and entitlement.
So why would middle-class Jane Cohen Rubin — who has advanced on my own merits — who attended rough public schools where my sisters and I were the only Jews...
Be smeared as a jewish princess...
And be openly and publicly bullied and defamed...
While wealthy abusers and public and private institutions have been allowed to perpetrate crimes, defamation, and corruption...
Against a law-abiding Jewish-American Woman...
Also injuring my law-abiding Jewish Family...
That gross — mainstream — anti-Semitism — and misogyny — and politically motivated corruption — is what people should focus on.
It would be cool if Herb Cohen were still alive — to indict the bad actors and send them to prison. I am certain he would.