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ISAAC MAYER WISE (1819-1900)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 752 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ISAAC MAYER WISE (1819-1900), American Jewish theologian, was born in Bohemia, but his career is associated with the organization of the Jewish reform movement in the United States. From,the moment of his arrival in America (1846) his influence made itself felt. In 1854 he was appointed rabbi at Cincinnati. Some of his actions roused considerable opposition. Thus he was instrumental in compiling a new prayer-book, which he designed as the " American Rite " (Minhag America). He was opposed to political Zionism, and the Montreal Conference (1897), at his instigation, passed resolutions disapproving of the attempt to establish a Jewish state, and affirming that the Jewish Messianic hope pointed to a great universal brotherhood. In keeping with this denial of a Jewish nationality, Wise believed in national varieties of Judaism, and strove to harmonize the synagogue with local circumstances and sympathies. In 1848 he conceived the idea of a union, and after a campaign lasting a quarter of a century the Union of American Hebrew Congregations was founded (1873) in Cincinnati. As a corollary of this he founded in 1875 the " Hebrew Union College " in the same city, and this institution has since trained a large number of ,the rabbis of America. Wise also organized various general assemblies of rabbis, and in 1889 established the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He was the first to introduce family pews in synagogues, and in many other ways " occidentalized " Jewish worship. See D. Philipson, The Reform Movement in Judaism (1907). (I. A.)
End of Article: ISAAC MAYER WISE (1819-1900)

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