Isaac Mayer Wise
Closing Thoughts
 

 

 

 

 

 

 At the close of the nineteenth century, Wise looked back upon his dreams for American Judaism.  “’Early in life,’” he wrote, “’there wakened within me an unutterable instinct to achieve something in the world, preferably in Judaism…In my dreams…I had decided to conquer America’” (Temkin 302).  In the world of American Judaism, Wise came near to accomplishing that end.  Though he had not achieved exactly his goals for an organized American Jewry, the three structures with which he worked personally (the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Hebrew Union College, and the Central Conference for American Rabbis) came close enough (302).  No one knows what would have been the fate of American Judaism in the nineteenth century without Wise’s vision.  This vision, without a doubt, “enabled him to bring about the naturalization of the Jews and Judaism in the United States” (304).  To the Jews of this country, Isaac Mayer Wise’s contributions are invaluable.  He gave them a common spirit and identity and a denomination that stands to this day.  The majority of Americans who are non-Jewish, though, also benefit from the works of this outstanding religious figure.  Wise serves to them an exemplary embodiment of the American ideals of success and determination.  Isaac Mayer Wise truly claims a page among the chapters of America’s religious history. 

 

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