On a hot and humid Cincinnati evening in July 1883, more than 200 distinguished guests, Jews and non-Jews alike, gathered at the exclusive Highland House restaurant to celebrate a milestone in the history of American Judaism: Hebrew Union College, which Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise
, the publisher of the American Israelite, founded, had just ordained its initial graduating class.
Nonetheless, Rabin does help us understand that once Jews had adopted that perspective, Isaac Mayer Wise
's pragmatic approach to building Jewish institutions in America made the rise of Reform Judaism likely.
They had no interest in claiming as their own, say, Isaac Harby or Mordecai Noah or Penina Moise or Rebecca Hyneman or Isaac Mayer Wise
(though they, too, valorized newness) or even Emma Lazarus, that is, the very writers the American Jewish Historical Society scholars boasted of.
The newspaper came into the possession of the current owners, the Sulzbergers when it was bought in 1896 by Adolph Ochs, the son of a lay rabbi from German stock and married to the daughter of the leading reform rabbi, Isaac Mayer Wise
. Like his son after him, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, both were acutely concerned about their social standing in American society and were anxious that the newspaper should not be perceived as "a Jewish newspaper."
Similarly, Rabbi Liebman Adler argued that Jews should vote for the Republican Party, even if the Democrats "were to place Messiah at their head, make Moses the Chief Justice, and call the Patriarchs to the Cabinet." In contrast, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise
argued that Grant's Orders #11 could not be overlooked.
Reform leaders such as the long-lived German-born Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise
, and such educational institutions as Hebrew Union College, founded in 1883, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, organized ten years earlier, showed the shaping influence of German Jews in the United States.
Isaac Mayer Wise
, who participated in the meeting, wrote a widely circulated account of what transpired.
There are groundbreaking studies of at least fifty subjects, including the Qur'an and its commentators, Rabbis Isaac Mayer Wise
and Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, Russian Orthodox theologians like Pavel Svetlov, and even modern geocentrists like Gerardus Dingeman Bouw.
In any forthcoming revision it would be helpful to include significant American involvement with the dialogue: Isaac Mayer Wise
, the founder of Reform Judaism in the U.S.; Isaac Leeser, a leader among early conservative Jews; scholars such as Solomon Schecter, who led the Jewish Theological Seminary and Conservative Judaism; Mordecai Kaplan, leader of the Reconstructionist Movement; the "Radio Priest," Father Charles E.
Isaac Mayer Wise
, Liebman Adler, and Adoph Moses are highly represented.
Between the 1870s and the 1920s, liberal rabbis Isaac Mayer Wise
and then Stephen S.
Similarly, in the United States, Isaac Mayer Wise
, the "father of American Reform Judaism" and founder of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations as well as the Hebrew Union College, was renowned--as Kaplan himself points out--for his ideological flexibility, signing platforms on one occasion that affirmed the Talmud as the authoritative guide for Jewish life while in another instance assenting to a policy pronouncement that disparaged the Oral Law altogether.