_All Snapshots

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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Henry Ford and Antisemitism: The Notorious “Dearborn Independent”

Henry Ford (1863-1947) is famous most generally for founding the Ford Motor Company, developing the assembly-line technique for mass production, and creating the first automobile affordable to middle-class Americans. He is relevant to Jewish studies, however, because he was hailed by many as an “antisemite.” But on what grounds? In the early 1920s, Ford sponsored…

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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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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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Can a rabbi and a Beatle make beautiful music together?

Give Peace a Chance EP 1969

This was the question posed by the May 31st, 1969 publication of “The Montreal Gazette” in reference to John Lennon’s first solo single released while still with the Beatles – ‘Give Peace a Chance’. The album, recorded during Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Bed-In for Peace’ to protest the Vietnam War, featured rabbi and reform activist…

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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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