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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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Establishing the Union (1871–1873)

Establishing the Union (1871–1873)

20. Establishing the Union (1871–1873)
Creating American Reform Judaism

Sefton D. Temkin

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes Isaac Mayer Wise’s attempts at the establishment of a union. It was in 1871 — not long after the close of the Cincinnati Conference — that the first decision to join was made, by Congregation Bene Israel of St Louis. But if Wise was to get the union going, he needed the support of his own congregation. B’nai Jeshurun merely joined those congregations which signified their willingness to join the union once established; it had undertaken no commitment to establish the union. Somehow the project lagged. Perhaps the ‘Personal God’ controversy frightened people off from Wise’s enterprises; perhaps recollections of the false start of 1869 made them sceptical as to its realization; perhaps the absence of the influential congregations of the East made them dubious as to its value. Indubitably the communities were in closer contact than they had been when union projects had been discussed in 1848 and 1855, but still there were problems immediate and local in impact and far higher in priority than setting up a national organization.

Keywords:   union of congregations, Cincinnati Conference, B’nai Jeshurun, union projects, national organization, Union of American Hebrew Congregations

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