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Isaac Mayer Wise

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).

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

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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