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Blackstone, William E. (06 October 1841–1935), Christian Zionist and author, was born in Adams, New York, the son of Andrew Blackstone, a tinsmith, and Sally (maiden name unknown). Born into a devout Methodist family, he had an evangelical conversion experience at the age of ten while attending a local Methodist revival meeting. He remained a Methodist for the rest of his life, although he criticized the denomination for the liberal or “modernist” direction it had taken by the turn of the twentieth century. Though he became a leading spokesperson for American fundamentalism and Zionism, Blackstone received no formal education or training. Rejected by the Union army on account of frailness, Blackstone spent the Civil War working for the Christian Commission, a missionary agency designed to provide spiritual counsel and medical aid to northern soldiers. He married Sarah Louis Smith in 1866; they had three children....

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Magnes, Judah Leon (05 July 1877–27 October 1948), rabbi, communal leader, and first chancellor and first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was born in San Francisco, California, the eldest of five children of David Magnes and Sophie Abrahamson. His father had emigrated from Poland at age fifteen in 1863 and his mother from eastern Prussia in 1872. When Magnes was five, the family moved to nearby Oakland, California, where his father opened a dry-goods store. The Magneses were a close-knit family. English was the language of the home, although Magnes’s mother and maternal grandmother insisted that the children learn German. The family belonged to the local Reformed congregation, where Magnes received his early religious education. From his father he gained an empathy for the Jewish religious traditions and Yiddish culture of Eastern Europe and from his mother a grounding in German culture. In later life his appreciation for both religious-cultural strands in American Jewish life made him an ideal mediator between the two....

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Mendes, Henry Pereira (13 April 1852–20 October 1937), rabbi and communal leader, was born in Birmingham, England, the son of Rev. Abraham Pereira Mendes, a religious leader, and Eliza de Sola. He attended University College of the University of London from 1870 to 1872 and received private instruction in Jewish studies. A descendant of a long line of religious leaders on both his paternal and maternal sides, he decided early in life to minister to the religious needs of his people. Also interested in medicine, he received an M.D. from New York University in 1884....

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Silver, Abba Hillel (28 January 1893–28 November 1963), rabbi and Zionist leader, was born Abraham Silver in the Lithuanian village of Neustadt-Schirwindt, the son of Rabbi Moses Silver, a proprietor of a soap business, and Dina Seaman. The family immigrated to the United States in stages, settling on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1902, when Silver was nine years old. He attended public school in the mornings and Jewish religious seminaries in the afternoons yet still made time for his growing interest in the fledgling Zionist movement. He and his brother Maxwell founded the Dr. Herzl Zion Club, one of the first Zionist youth groups in America, in 1904. On Friday evenings, Silver attended the mesmerizing lectures of ...

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Stephen Samuel Wise Photograph by Pirie MacDonald, 1913. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-75146).

Article

Wise, Stephen Samuel (17 March 1874–19 April 1949), rabbi, reformer, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Erlau, Hungary (near Budapest), the son of Aaron Weisz (later Wise), a rabbi, and Sabine de Fischer Farkashazy, the daughter of a baron. Aaron Weisz immigrated to the United States in 1874 and fifteen months later sent for his wife and children. The descendant of six generations of rabbis, Stephen Wise never considered any other career. He studied first with his father, then simultaneously at both the new Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University (graduating from Columbia in 1892). In 1893 he took his rabbinical ordination in Vienna from Adolf Jellinik, the renowned Jewish rabbi and scholar....