Stephen S. Wise
Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949) was among the most prominent Jewish rabbis in America in the first half of the twentieth century. The son of a Conservative rabbi who immigrated to the United States from Prussia, Wise converted to Reform Judaism as an adult and became an ardent supporter of both Zionism and Progressive social reform. In 1897, Wise helped found the Federation of American Zionists (later known as the Zionist Organization of America). After completing his rabbinical studies and earning his PhD from Columbia University in 1901, Wise became involved in a controversy over freedom speech within American Reform Judaism. Wise argued that rabbis should be free to address their congregations without submitting to outside oversight and in order to do so, he founded the Free Synagogue of New York City in 1907. He and his congregation quickly became known for their participation in progressive social movements, working not only to advance the cause of the Jewish diaspora, but other marginalized people groups at home and abroad.