Leopold Cohn (pictured above) was born into an Orthodox Jewish community in Berezna, a small town in eastern Hungary in 1862. At age 18 he graduated with high marks from the Talmudic academy and became a rabbi. One of his rituals was to daily repeat the 12th article of the Jewish creed:
I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah,
and though he tarry, yet will I wait daily for His coming.
Cohn however wondered why Messiah tarried, but was unsettled by the "answers" he able to find. While reading the Talmud (collected writings of rabbis commenting on the Torah or Old Testament), he discovered that other rabbis had also wrestled with this question. But as he continued to study he discovered that the Messiah should have come long ago. This prompted him to study the Hebrew prophets for himself, and as he studied Daniel’s prophecy of the "70 weeks" in Daniel 9:24-27+, it became clear that Daniel had predicted the coming of Messiah some 400-500 years after the prophecy was given. But that was 2500 years ago and the rabbis said that Messiah had not yet come. How could he resolve this contradiction? An older rabbi who served as Cohn's mentor advised him to drop the subject altogether or he might lose his rabbinical career because such questions were not to be asked. The rabbi further explained that he could not discuss the matter without losing his own job. He even advised Cohn to go to America where, he said, people knew more about the Messiah. Later, Leopold Cohn recalled this incident and felt that the rabbi knew something about the Messiah, Jesus. And so in 1892 Cohn left Hungary for New York City in search of the truth about the Messiah prompted by his study of Daniel's "Seventy weeks". On one providential day, Cohn happened to pass by a church in the Jewish section of the city and noticed a small sign advertising "Meetings for Jews." It was at that meeting that Cohn met another Jewish man also trained in the Talmud. It was there that Leopold Cohn was given a copy of the New Testament which he read straight though beginning at 11:00 one morning and finishing at 1:00 AM the next day, upon which he concluded that Yeshua (Jesus) was indeed the promised Messiah prophesied by Daniel to come and be cut off. Soon thereafter he received Yeshua, Jesus, as his Messiah, Savior and Lord. With his new found faith, he begin to go to his people, the Jews, and in Cohn's words
I showed them from the Scriptures that to believe in Yeshua was Jewish faith, real Jewish faith.
What followed was sorrow, travail and persecution from other Jews because of his presumed "betrayal" of their orthodox faith. In 1894 Cohn set up a storefront mission in a renovated horse stable in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York for the sole purpose of telling others that the Messiah had come and that his name was Yeshua, Jesus. The first Bible meeting was attended by eight Jewish people. The Lord continued to bless this work, and in the course of his lifetime, Leopold Cohn led over 1,000 people to the Lord. His local mission eventually became the American Board of Missions to the Jews, which was later re-named Chosen People Ministries. Over 50 years later a man named Moishe Rosen left that ministry to form what eventually became Jews for Jesus. This one passage, Daniel 9:24-27+, resulted in circumcision of the heart of this Orthodox Jewish rabbi, changing his eternal destiny from hell to heaven, and by the grace of God led to the birthing of ministries that have touched literally thousands of Jewish and Gentile lives around the world! Hallelujah! Amen!
Donald Campbell adds that "Leopold Cohn a European rabbi, studied the prophecy of the 70 weeks and came to the conclusion, based on verse 26 (Daniel 9:26+), that Messiah had already come because His coming was to be before the destruction had taken place in A.D. 70! Approaching an older rabbi, he asked where Messiah was. The rabbi said, "Go to New York and you will find Messiah there." Selling most of his belongings to buy passage to America, Mr. Cohn came to this country and wandered the streets of New York City, looking for Messiah. One day he heard singing coming from a building and went in, only to hear a clear gospel message. That night he received the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior. Shortly after, Mr. Cohn bought a stable, swept it out, set up some chairs, and began to hold gospel meetings, the first outreach of what was to become the American Board of Missions to the Jews." (Borrow Daniel: Decoder of Dreams - also titled Daniel God's Man in a Secular Society)
- Notes from Chosen People Ministries
- Wikipedia article Leopold Cohn (Christian clergyman)
- Encyclopedia of evangelicalism
- "MINUTES OF THE FIRST Hebrew-Christian Conference OF THE United States"
Marcus Bergmann translated the Scriptures into Yiddish, which is understood by most European Jews. Mr. Bergmann's conversion, as told by himself, is exceedingly interesting. Born in Germany, his father belonged to the strictest sect of Jews, the Chasidim, and died when Marcus was but a year old. Six years after his father's decease, his mother and he went to reside with an uncle, the lad being brought up strictly. At the age of twenty, Mr. Bergmann arrived in England, and established a small synagogue in the city of London, where he officiated for a time. Owing to an attack of illness, he went to the German hospital to be treated. One day he found a Hebrew Bible in the ward, and commenced to study it. Whilst reading the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel, his eye caught the prophecy contained in Daniel 9:26+
And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.
He had never noticed that expression, as the Rabbis discouraged the reading of the Messianic prophecies, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah not being read in the synagogues. Mr. Bergmann threw down the Book saying to himself, "Oh, this is one of the mission Bibles." But do what he might, he could not get rid of the words, "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself." Why, then, would He be "cut off?" Why should He die if not for Himself? And the thought was suggested by the Holy Spirit: "Might not Jesus of Nazareth be the Messiah?" He did his utmost to get rid of the words, "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself," but they would not be buried. One morning he took up the Bible, and as he read part of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, his eye fell on the words,
For He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of My people was He stricken (Isa 53:8+).
The soul saving truth of the Gospel was laid hold of, and for the first time he understood that the Lord Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah; that
He was wounded for his transgressions and bruised for his iniquities, that the chastisement of (or with the view to) his peace was upon Him, and with His stripes he was healed (Isa. 53:5+).
(From "Twice Born Men" by Hy Pickering - online)