Regene Cohane

Dedicated lawyer and "Woman of Achievement" who fought sexism and anti-Semitism

Date of Birth: October 16, 1899

Date of Death: June 5, 1992

Regene Freund Cohane was one of seven Jewish women at Cornell University who founded the Sigma Delta Tau sorority after experiencing discrimination against Jews in the Greek system on campus. She was the sorority’s first national president (1918-1922).

Following graduation from law school in 1920 (as one of two women in her class), she passed the bar in Detroit later that year. She married Louis Cohane in 1924, opening a joint law office, Cohane and Cohane. It was reported the Cohanes took time from their honeymoon to become the first married couple to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Regene practiced law for more than 72 years. In 1985, then-publisher of the Detroit Jewish News, Philip Slomovitz said following the death of Louis Cohane that “one cannot recall (Louis) Cohane without including in this chapter of Detroit Jewish history his widow, Regene Freund Cohane. Regene, now in her 65th year as an active law practitioner, was among the very active leaders in Jewish women’s ranks. For a generation, she was listed among the most talented women in Michigan. That she is still in law serves as a welcome message for her many friends.”

Regene was a president of Women Lawyers of Michigan and a member of the Cornell Club of Michigan. As president of the National Council of Jewish Women, in 1933, she oversaw both the creation of a soup kitchen and a camp providing free vacations in the country to working class women. She held office with the YWCA of Highland Park, was president of Inter-Group Council of Detroit, and president of Detroit Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Throughout her life, Regene Freund Cohane was honored for her leadership roles in civic and social welfare organizations. In 1973, she received the Hannah G. Solomon Award from the NCJW. She was chosen as one of Detroit’s “Women of Achievement,” and her portrait was placed in the Detroit Historical Museum. In 1991, Sigma Delta Tau honored Regene by establishing the Regene Freund Cohane Outstanding President Award.