Education & Intellectual Life

Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995): the “Dean” of American Jewish historians

Photo collage of Jacob Rader Marcus.

Jacob Rader Marcus, the founder of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), was born in Connelsville, PA on March 5, 1896. Known as the “Dean” of American Jewish historians, Dr. Marcus was the first American born, scientifically trained historian to earn an academic Ph.D. to examine the American Jewish experience. . In 1947—with the great centers…

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REBECCA GRATZ (1781-1869)

Black and white photograph of Rebecca Gratz.

Let’s discuss the sensational life and legacy of American Jewish educator and philanthropist Rebecca Gratz. Gratz was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she lived with her eleven siblings and her parents Miriam and Michael. In 1801 she established the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances which helped families affected…

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KAUFMANN KOHLER (1843- 1926)

Black and white photograph of Kaufmann Kohler.

In 1903, after a lengthy search for a suitable replacement for Isaac M. Wise, Kaufmann Kohler was invited to interview for the presidency of HUC. He was unanimously approved by the HUC board and accepted the position, which he retained until his retirement in 1921. His presidency included many significant accomplishments: the restructuring of the…

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RABBI FRANKLIN AND HIS THANKSGIVING SERVICE

Black and white image of Rabbi Franklin sitting with young students.

The Interdenominational Community Thanksgiving Service was founded in 1902 by Dr. Leo M. Franklin, Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Detroit, Michigan from 1899-1941. The first service, called “A Citizens’ Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service”, was held on November 27, 1902, in the Detroit Opera House. An account in the Detroit News stated that a capacity crowd…

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GOLDA MEIR IN AMERICA

Black and white photograph of Golda Meir in a robe and seated in front of an Israeli flag.

Golda Meir was the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. She was born May 13th, 1898 in Kiev and immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1906. As a child she was drawn toward helping others; she once raised money for classmates who could not afford to purchase textbooks. Her parents were set on her getting married rather…

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Emma Lazarus: Writings and Philanthropy

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) wrote these words memorialized on the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus was born to a Jewish family in New York, near Union Square, on July 22, 1849. She held a strong classical education along with fluency in German and French.…

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Binationalism, Rabbi Judah Magnes, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 

Image of Judah Magnus.

Rabbi Judah Leon Magnes (1877-1948) is memorialized as a leader of Reform Judaism, a notable pacifist during WWI, and an advocate for a binationalist Jewish-Arab state during the years of the British Mandate of Palestine. Born in San Francisco, California, Magnes became one of the most widely recognized voices of American Reform Judaism in the…

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The Cape May Resolution: On Ordaining Female Rabbis

Image of Mrs. Martha Neumark Montor.

On June 29, 1922, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) gathered to debate on the most vital of questions: May women be ordained as rabbis? Meeting in Cape May, New Jersey, the convention invited both ordained rabbis – only male at the time – and women guests (mainly rabbis’ wives) to engage in conversation. …

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The First Edition of The Israelite (1854)

First edition of The Israelite 7-15-1854

On July 15, 1854, Isaac M. Wise published the first edition of his weekly newspaper The Israelite, which would later become The American Israelite. At the time of its creation, there was no Jewish publication west of the Alleghenies. In its first pages, Wise detailed the goals of the newspaper, saying that it will “favor enlightenment,…

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