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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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11. Heading West
Creating American Reform Judaism

Sefton D. Temkin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter details Isaac Mayer Wise’s appointment to Cincinnati. The generally accepted version of Wise’s appointment is that in August 1853, Jacob Goodheart, then treasurer of the Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, wrote to Wise out of the blue asking whether he would accept the position of rabbi; that Wise stipulated election for life, no trial sermon, and not taking up his duties before a lapse of six months, and a salary that would make him independent of gifts; and that five days after communicating the requirements he ‘received a telegram to the effect that he had been unanimously elected rabbi of the congregation on his own terms’. This story can be traced back to Wise’s Reminiscences, where he says he received Goodheart’s letter while he was in a mood of defeat and self-pity following the failure of his history book from the previous chapter. But by the time this book appeared, Wise had received the Cincinnati appointment. And he was already in communication with B’nai Jeshurun before receiving the letter.

Keywords:   B’nai Jeshurun, Cincinnati, Albany, Asmodean, Jacob Goodheart, Orthodoxy

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