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Creating American Reform JudaismLife and Times of Isaac Mayer Wise$
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Sefton D. Temkin

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774457

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774457.001.0001

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Jewish Life in an Age of Reaction

Jewish Life in an Age of Reaction

(p.5) 2. Jewish Life in an Age of Reaction
Creating American Reform Judaism

Sefton D. Temkin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes the intellectual milieu within which Isaac Mayer Wise grew up. Growing up, he stood apart from the intellectual circles whose aspirations evoked the fears of authority. Yet the chapter shows a pamphlet he had picked up in Prague — one which had a profound effect on a young man brought up in the stuffy atmosphere of Metternich’s Austria. He later claimed that this pamphlet made him a naturalized American in Bohemia. Indeed, the influence on Wise of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment can be judged from the way it remained with him. Repeatedly he extolled the power of reason and the rule of progress. One can be sure that during the years of his study in Prague, Wise heard the pros and cons both of Reform Judaism in general and of a modern institution for the training of rabbis canvassed with ardour.

Keywords:   Reform Judaism, Jewish life, Bohemia, rabbinic training, Enlightenment era, revolutions, reason, progress, modern institutions

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