Religion

Mikveh Israel’s burial ground – Philadelphia, 1740

Image of the inside of Mikveh Israel, including central bima, ark, and separated, gender-based seating on different levels.

Although Mikveh Israel, Philadelphia’s first synagogue, was not founded until 1782, the land for its cemetery has an earlier history. A burial plot was first bought by Nathan Levy in 1738 when he suddenly needed a burial place for one of his children, and land was made available to him by Thomas Penn, the son…

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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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The Life, Work and Lasting Impact of R. Isaac Mayer Wise (Video)

Photograph of Rabbi Isaac M. Wise retrieved from a scrapbook compiled of his life and death. The image is attached the the paper and covered with dried leaves and flowers.

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives has produced a 10-minute video illuminating the life, work and lasting impact of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise—the pioneering architect of American Reform Judaism. It was created in commemoration of the bicentennial of Rabbi Wise’s birth. This program can be used to teach teens, young adult…

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Two 19th-century ketubot

Two 19th-century ketubot. The first is from 1857 and is for the marriage of Solomon Joseph and Rebecca Abraham, both of Charleston, S.C. The other is from 1873 and is for the marriage of David Nieto and Esther Belasco—residents of Kingston, Jamaica.

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The First LGBTQ+ Synagogue in the U.S.

Collage of BCC including an image of Rabbi Erwin Herman, Herman's biography, and an advertisement for a "Synagogue formed for homosexuals in L.A."

Beth Chayim Chadashim’s (BCC) first service was held on June 9, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. BCC is the first primarily LGBT synagogue in the United States. BCC, which at the time was known as the Metropolitan Community Temple, began with fifteen members and held services in the local community center. BCC grew and prospered…

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JULIAN MORGENSTERN (1881-1976)

Black and white photograph of Julian Morgenstern.

After his ordination at HUC in 1902, Julian Morgenstern studied in Europe and received his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg. He served several small congregations in the Midwest, and then returned to HUC in 1907, the first American-born scholar to be appointed to the HUC faculty. He was named Acting President of HUC in…

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ALFRED GOTTCHALK (1930-2009)

Black and white photograph of Alfred Gottchalk.

Alfred Gottschalk was born in Oberwesel, Germany on March 7, 1930.  His father fled to New York in 1938 after narrowly escaping arrest by the Gestapo. Alfred and his mother joined him in 1939. After graduating from Brooklyn College, Gottschalk attended HUC-JIR (first in New York and then in Cincinnati), where he received his rabbinical…

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AMERICA’S OLDEST STANDING SYNAGOGUE

Black and white image of the Touro Synagogue, undated.

December 2nd, 1763, Members of the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island witnessed the dedication of the Touro Synagogue, the oldest standing synagogue building in the United States. It is the only synagogue to survive from the colonial era. The synagogue was designed by Newport citizen Peter Harrison. At the onset of the American Revolution,…

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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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