Organizations & Institutions

“Too Early to Intervene”: Rabbi Stephen Wise and President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Stephen S. Wise sitting in his study

Rabbi Steven Wise was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1874, before immigrating with his family (as an infant) to New York. He grew into one of the most renowned American Reform rabbis and Zionist leaders of the 20th-century. In 1922, Wise founded the Jewish Institute of Religion. He was also a founding member of the…

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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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The Lifetime of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise

Black and white photograph of Isaac M. Wise.

Revered as “the foremost rabbi in America,” Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900) was born in the Austrian Empire, the son of a schoolteacher. He received his early Jewish education from both his father and grandfather before moving to Prague to pursue additional secular studies. He served as a rabbi in Radintz, Bohemia, before immigrating to the…

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Harriet Beecher Stowe Correspondence With R. Isaac Mayer Wise

On August 4, 1854, the renowned abolitionist and famous author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896), wrote a letter to Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1819–1900) thanking him for sending her a copy of his recently published History of the Israelitisch Nation.  She wrote, “It is with some deep emotion that I receive from…

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The Catskills Cultural Revolution: Jennie Grossinger

On June 16, 1892, Jennie Grossinger was born to a Jewish family in the province of Galicia, at the time a region of Austria – though later incorporated into Poland, and eventually into the Ukraine. Jennie Grossinger and her family immigrated to New York’s Lower East Side in 1900, a reprieve from the antisemitism, pogroms…

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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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