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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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Flexner, Bernard (24 February 1865–03 May 1945), lawyer, social welfare advocate, and Jewish community leader, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Morris (originally Moritz) Flexner and Esther Abraham. His parents, immigrants from Bohemia and the Rhineland, had settled in Louisville in the 1850s. Morris prospered as a hat merchant, but the panic of 1873 left his family of nine children impoverished. Bernard, who was the fifth child and fifth son, had two brothers who achieved eminence in American life. ...

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Gottheil, Richard James Horatio (13 October 1862–22 May 1936), professor and founder of the American Zionist movement, was born in Manchester, England, the son of Gustav Gottheil, a rabbi, and Rosalie Wollman. He was brought to the United States at the age of eleven upon his father’s appointment as rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in New York City. He graduated in 1881 from Columbia College, where his classmates and associates included ...

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Greenberg, Hayim (01 January 1889–14 March 1953), Zionist leader and author, was born in the Bessarabian (Moldavian) village of Todoristi, then part of the Russian empire, the son of Itzhak Meir Greenberg, a grain merchant. The identity of his mother is unknown. Hayim grew up near the provincial city of Kishinev, where his father was known locally for his progressive views. In a fashion that was in keeping with such a family background, Hayim was schooled in basic Judaica by private tutors. He also read widely and taught himself to read and write Russian. Although he never received any further formal education, he became a young writer of some repute....

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Lewisohn, Ludwig (30 May 1883–31 December 1955), writer and translator, was born to acculturated Jewish parents, Minna Eloesser and Jacques Lewisohn, in Berlin. His father, a ne’er-do-well businessman, settled the family in a South Carolina village, where Minna Lewisohn had relatives, in 1890. But Lewisohn spent most of his childhood in Charleston where, he recalled, he strove to “forget his Jewish and his German past” and be accepted as “an American, a Southerner, and a Christian.” Graduating in 1901 from the College of Charleston with both a B.A. and an M.A., he began graduate studies in English literature at Columbia University in New York City, where in 1903 he earned another M.A. In New York he began to affirm his German and, ultimately, his Jewish origins. He was plagued by the anti-Semitism and xenophobia of American university life at that time, but as instructor of German at the University of Wisconsin (1910–1911) and subsequently as professor of German language and literature at Ohio State University (1911–1919) he established his credentials as a prime interpreter of modern European, especially German, literature....

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Lowenthal, Marvin Marx (06 October 1890–15 March 1969), writer and Zionist organizer, was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the son of Louis S. Lowenthal, a jeweler, and Pauline Marx. At the age of fifteen he went to work in a local silk mill. Having risen from bobbin boy to assistant superintendent within six years, Lowenthal quit his job to enroll at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In February 1912 Lowenthal embarked on a rigorous course of humanistic studies and graduated with the class of 1915....

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Julian William Mack Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112324).

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Mack, Julian William (19 July 1866–05 September 1943), lawyer, judge, and Zionist leader, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of William Jacob Mack, an immigrant from Bavaria who prospered as a dry goods merchant, and Rebecca Tandler. Julian was the second of thirteen children born to the couple. Because of health reasons, William Mack resettled the family in Cincinnati in 1870, and there young Julian came under the influence of Rabbi ...

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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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Rosenblatt, Bernard Abraham (15 June 1886–14 October 1969), Zionist leader, was born in Grodok (near Bialystok), Poland, the son of Louis Rosenblatt and Mary Hachnochi, both from successful woolen factory-owning families; their home attracted Jewish nationalists, intellectuals, and artists. Spurred by the depression of 1890 to emigrate to the United States, the Rosenblatts settled in 1892 in Philadelphia. Their sizable residence was on the South Side, where an immigrant Jewish neighborhood was developing. A public school student, Bernard Rosenblatt also went to a Jewish religious school. He was to remember that at age eleven, during a Sabbath-afternoon discussion at home just prior to the first World Zionist Congress, he championed the feasibility of Zionism. Three years later, the family left Philadelphia for Pittsburgh. There, at Central High School, he formed a Zionist society; in 1903 he participated in his first American Zionist convention. The next year, the family moved to the Jewish neighborhood of Harlem in New York City, and Rosenblatt entered Columbia; by December he had established the first Zionist Society at the college. In his senior year he won the Curtis Medal with his speech “Palestine: The Future Hebrew State,” in which he characterized the Zionists putting down roots in Palestine as “Jewish Puritans,” pursuing a highly ethical kind of state. This appreciation of American tradition and idealistic Zionism came to characterize Rosenblatt’s life work....

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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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Weisgal, Meyer Wolfe (10 November 1894–29 September 1977), journalist, theater producer, and Zionist executive, was born in Kikol, Poland, the son of Solomon Weisgal, hasan (Jewish religious cantor), and Lea Friedman. He received a talmudic education in Poland before emigrating with his family to the United States in 1906 and settling in New York City. He served as a private in the U.S. Army in 1918. In 1923 he married Shirley Hirshfeld; the couple had three children....

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

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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....