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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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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Rabbi David Philipson: A Voice in Opposition

A member of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College (HUC), David Philipson (1862-1949) attended HUC following a direct invitation from Rabbi Isaac M. Wise. Born to German-Jewish immigrants in Wabash, Indiana, Philipson proved a prominent scholar. He spoke six languages, including: English, Hebrew, German, Arabic, Aramaic and Amharic. Perhaps you have heard of…

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The Kidnapping of Edgardo Levi Mortara

A black and white drawn, gridded image depicting the abduction of Edgardo Levi Mortara as a six-year-old child in 1858. On the right side of the image, Edgardo’s family appears pained; one woman has fainted, held up by another. The father’s arms are outstretched to the boy, but the boy is being ushered away by a representative of the Catholic Church on the left frame of the image and does not look towards his father. The image is crowded with figures, from family, to onlookers, to the boy, Edgardo, himself.

The tale of the kidnapping of Edgardo Levi Mortara (1851–1940) is not an easy one to sit with; nor was it amenable to ears in the years it came to pass. The boy, Edgardo, you see, was a Jew. Born to Italian Jewish merchants in Bologna, Italy, in the year 1851, Edgardo lived and breathed…

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