Major individual and event influences
The very early of the Reform Judaism movement had initially started at the nineteenth century. Reform Judaism was born at the time of the French Revolution, a time when European Jews were recognized for the first time as citizens of the countries in which they lived. Many Jews settled outside of Jewish districts, and began to live like their neighbors and speak the language of the country. They went to public schools and universities, and began to neglect Jewish studies and to ignore the Shulchan Aruch. The struggle to establish Reform Judaism in Germany was to be repeated in the “New World” with much success in relatively short time. The earliest try occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, the cultural and commercial center of North America in the 1820s and the young nation’s second largest Jewish community in which to branch the first Reform Judaism movement in North America.
Once settled in North America, Isaac Mayer Wise was the central founder behind the creation of American Reform Judaism. From his arrival in America in 1846 to his death in 1900, the rabbi was enthusiastic to modernizing and Americanizing Judaism. He rejected as outdated many European rituals and mocked Jews overly concerned with what he viewed as relatively unimportant aspects of the religion such as dietary laws, calling them supporters to “kitchen Judaism.” His self-confidence and magnetic speaking style won him many fans and followers, but his pain led him into bitter arguments in which he became lifelong enemies with other leading Jewish figures. His most enduring influences lie in the institutions he established, which included the major institutions that fostered Reform Judaism-- the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Hebrew Union College. Through their creation, Wise advanced his aim of attracting American Jews together around a modern brand of the religion suited for the New World.
Isaac Mayer Wise was born in the town of Steingrub in Bohemia on March 20, 1819. He was then boarded and briefly a rabbi in the Bohemian local town of Radnitz; came to the U.S in 1846 and he quickly became the leader of Albany’s Beth El congregation. In addition, Wise introduced a few modern changes in music and decorum, and worked harder on mastering English history, philosophy, and general Americana than at reforming traditional Beth El. Wise together with his two colleagues had published “Minhag America” in which it was a traditional book of prayer that was in use during his time. Wise also started publishing the newspaper the “Israelite”. The newspaper had an enormous impact in improving Wise’s character as a Jewish leader of national standing. In the newspaper’s first few months, Wise used it to call for the Jews of Cincinnati to establish a college with a theological seminary. The establishment of such an institution had been a long-standing dream for Wise, and though he would finally achieve his purpose, this call in September 1854 would prove to be just one of several false starts for the college.
Another person who made an impact on Reform Judaism movement was Stephen S. Wise. He strongly associated himself during his young age in a new movement which is called Zionism. The changes that he introduced together with other members during the interwar years transformed the reform movement and made it more inviting to East European Jews. He directed a congregation in Portland, Oregon, where his open-minded political convictions inspired him to fight for child labor laws and for the difficulties of striking workers. Wise was born in Hungary and raised in New York. He was also the son of a New York rabbi associated with the “conservative” camp and received private ordination in Europe. Returning to New York in 1906, he authoritatively declined the rabbinate of the city’s flagship Reform congregation, Temple…