Wise, Isaac Mayer

Wise, Isaac Mayer,

1819–1900, American rabbi, founder of organized Reform Judaism in the United States, b. Bohemia, studied at the Univ. of Vienna. He settled in the United States in 1846. Wise was liberal in his religious and political views. He was rabbi of Orthodox congregations in Albany, N.Y., and (from 1854) Cincinnati, both of which he turned into Reform synagogues. He energetically pursued his goal by founding (1875) the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and by organizing (1873) the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1889). He presided over these organizations until his death. He founded and edited two periodicals, the American Israelite, in English, and Deborah, in German. He wrote several novels, two plays, his reminiscences (1901), and many historical and religious works, including History of the Israelitish Nation (1854).

Bibliography

See study by A. F. Key (1962); J. G. Heller, Isaac Wise: His Life, Work, and Thought (1965).

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Wise, Isaac Mayer

(1819–1900) rabbi; born in Steingrub, Bohemia, (now Czech Republic). He studied in Vienna and settled in the U.S.A. in 1846. Rabbi of Orthodox congregations in Albany, N.Y., and Cincinnati, he changed them into Reform synagogues, and soon became the preeminent leader of Reform Judaism in the U.S.A. In 1873 he organized the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; in 1875 he founded the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and served as its president until his death; and in 1889 he established the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He was founder and editor of the American Israelite and Deborah. A prolific writer, he published many historical and religious works, including History of the Israelitish Nation (1854), as well as novels, plays, and a memoir, Reminiscences (1901).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.