In the summer of 2022, coin expert Brian Iseman stumbled on a trove of long-forgotten personal military possessions belonging to the family of Lt. Myer Tutzer Cohen. Cohen, from Toronto, was the first Canadian Jewish soldier to win the Military Cross for bravery in the Great War—and possibly the first in Canadian history to do so. Iseman quickly realized he needed to buy the collection to save it from being sold off, even though at the time, he didn’t know who Cohen was, nor was he aware of the young soldier’s remarkable achievements fighting against the Germans on the western front during the First World War.
Cohen was the son of one of the founders of Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple, and attended Harbord Collegiate high school. He was killed holding the line and badly outnumbered on the rain-soaked, muddy battlefields at Passchendaele on Nov. 3, 1917. His death came just a few weeks after he had been awarded the British Commonwealth’s second-highest military medal, the Military Cross, for taking out two German patrols in no man’s land in France, then capturing the rest as prisoners.
Iseman has rescued an important piece of Canadian history, and connected with Cohen’s surviving family in Israel while documenting the young officer’s life. Now, he is looking for suggestions on where he can best share Cohen’s colourful story with the world.
As we approach Remembrance Day this Saturday Nov. 11, The CJN Daily host Ellin Bessner visited Iseman at his Richmond Hill office to see the lost Lt. Myer Tutzer Cohen collection.
What we talked about
- Learn more about Lt. Myer Tutzer Cohen in The CJN archives.
- See a display about Lt. Myer Tutzer Cohen in the lobby of Beth Tzedec synagogue in Toronto until the end of this week.
- How Canadian Jews contributed to the country’s military history, in The CJN’s “Northern Lights” book.
The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.