America has long been described as the “melting pot,” the place of convergence for people of all nations, races, and faiths. This has been the case for the more than 500 years since Columbus sailed that ocean blue and foreigners began settling among the indigenous peoples. As they made their home in this great land through the centuries, newcomers had to adjust to being away from the comfort of the land they left behind. Many tried desperately to maintain the customs and traditions of their old lives. This was the state in which Isaac Mayer Wise found the immigrated Jewish people when he arrived in this country from Bohemia in 1846. Known today as the father of American Reformed Judaism, this energetic, young rabbi had a passion and dream for the Jews of this country. Wise’s goals were three-fold: to reform the American Jewry and organize them into a structured institution, uniting them with a truly American identity; to establish a national rabbinical seminary; and to form a synod for the clergy.
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