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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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The Essence of Judaism

The Essence of Judaism

9. The Essence of Judaism
Creating American Reform Judaism

Sefton D. Temkin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines Isaac Mayer Wise’s grand aim of building up a visible edifice of American Judaism. The edifice would need appropriate theological foundations, and Wise wrote explicitly in that field. These writings responded to practical needs also: his two weekly newspapers had appetites which had to be satisfied. Constant reading gave him access to a vast corpus of literature, and he had an energetic mind which could draw on it immediately in reaction to events as they arose. Under such conditions consistency is not to be expected, and it is difficult to isolate a well-rounded statement of beliefs. One consistent thread, his stress on Sinaitic revelation and his belief that Mosaic teaching was being consummated in the American system, has already been mentioned. Here was no isolated off-the-cuff observation but a glimpse of a thread that was expressed throughout his life.

Keywords:   Judaism, American Judaism, theological foundations, doctrine, Christianity, The Essence of Judaism, religious observance

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