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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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Minhag America

Minhag America

8. Minhag America
Creating American Reform Judaism

Sefton D. Temkin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines Isaac Mayer Wise’s Minhag America prayer-book. This book was used by many congregations in the United States until, nearly forty years after it first appeared, Wise withdrew it in favour of the Union Prayer Book. Minhag America can be described as the most important among Wise’s many books. History and theology interested a limited few; the market for Jewish literature was thin; but a prayer-book was a minimum necessity. Aided by Wise’s promotion, Minhag America attained a certain vogue and therefore came into the hands of a larger number of people. It was a practical embodiment of his quest for unity among the Jews of America. Though described as a collective enterprise (‘By the committee of the Cleveland Conference’), it was regarded as Wise’s very own child. He advanced its claims without inhibition, and attempts to supersede it aroused his protective instincts.

Keywords:   Minhag America, prayer-book, American congregations, Jewish unity, Union Prayer Book, Cleveland Conference, American Jewry

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