The Southern Israelite
Both to Jew and Gentile, Rabbi Ste
phen S. Wise has been something of a
mystery. On the one hand, he tells you
casually that, at the moment, he hap
pens to be preaching more frequently
;n Christian churches than in Hebrew
Synagogues. But on the other hand,
not less casually, he announces that,
whereas the English like to trace their
ancestry to the Plantagenets, he is
himself content to have in his veins
the blood of the prophets Hosea and
Mu ah. He is at once racial and mar
ginal. a kind of Paul, who, though a
Pharisee of the Pharisees, had a mes
sage also for mankind.
It is one word that explains him.
Hr is big. Massive in build, diapason
n voice, exuberant in affection, elo-
ijuent ' n speech, abounding in energy,
irrepressible in indignation, compre
hensive in vision, you can no more re
train him by tenets or define him by
labels than you can formulate the
breezes or classify the sunset. You
have to take him as God made him
fur he is obstinately determined to be
This is, indeed, the great contribu
tion that he has made to the temper
■ f Judaism. Long eras of the diaspora
had left many Jews with a curious
complex. Within them, there lay a
deep pride; but it was suppressed;
and in outward conduct, the Jew of
this type sought to assimilate him
self to his environment. To Rabbi
Wise, all that is anathema—let the
Jew be a Jew—as good a Jew as he
He looks at the English and says
" himself that here are people with
faults, with virtues, with abilities,
•vith limitations, and yet are able
to be just what they are, never imitat
ing others, whether French, with their
grace, or Germans, with their logic,
or Italians, with their art. To be or
t to be oneself—that is thus the
question; and Rabbi Wise has given
t no uncertain answer. It is thus in
s own way that he is orthodox. To
him, heresy does not mean an error
n theology. As a crime, it is more in-
timate than that. It is disloyalty to
> 'ur own being. That man is the arch
heretic who blushes for the glory of
the Creator within him.
Hence, there is but one phrase, at
mention of which Rabbi Wise becomes
' Un over a cup of tea, really danger-
."j' to his immediate surroundings.
• ude to the melting pot and you will
' "ell to keep your distance.
The idea that the United States of
menea is a kind of electric stove on
'' lca , you deposit a frying pan when
aried ingredients are reduced to a
asteless amalgam, is to him abhor-
l- e k anybody lose his individual
ly. m the opinion of Dr. Wise and,
» err jerges mutilated. The very flavor
!’ character—namely, distinction—
n *s been eliminated.
, , Wise ’ the United States
p , U Plural. Himself born in
^ dapest on March 17th, 1874, he
p q d . n , (S no * onI y for the rights of the
hV Eur °pean immigrant but for
* " v a ue. He sees this country, not
in k %ast conti nental uniformity, but
whiJh 0Wn wor( ^ as an orchestra, in
a thousand cultural instru
AS SEEN BY A NON JEW
RABBI STEPHEN WISE
By P. W. WILSON
ments, all diverse from the rest,
should render one human symphony.
To thine own self be true
And it shall follow as the night,
Thou canst not then be false to
This gospel of self-assertion has to
be accepted with its converse insistence
on one’s own rights means acknowl
edgment of the rights of others, nor
can you understand Rabbi Wise un
less you see, as it were, both sides of
Take his unusual comradeship with
Gentiles. With a clear discernment, he
realizes that for the Jew to quarrel
with the Christian merely because the
Christian reads the Jewish Bible and
worships a Jew as God, would be illog
ical. On the other hand, for the Chris
tian to accuse the Jew of a sole re
sponsibility for whatever it was that
brought the life of Jesus to an end, is
less contrary to the truth of the case.
To Rabbi Wise, it is absurd to treat
an event, so fundamental to history
as the rise of the Christian church,
merely as an incident in the anti-
The day of such emotions, however
inevitable they may have been, is over.
It is the principle of personality that
Rabbi Wise applies to the Jewish In
stitute of Religion of which he is the
founder and president. In Judaism as
in Islam and Christianity there are
Modernists or Liberals and Fundamen
talists, or Conservatives. That Dr.
Wise is classed among the Liberals is
true enough. But no man holds more
strongly than he to the view that tol
erance—to use a better word, fellow
ship—is a bilateral relation. It is not
only the old that should be tolerant to
the new. It is the new that should be
tolerant to the old. Hence, on the fac
ulty for which Dr. Wise is responsible,
there are Orthodox Hebrews who
bring into the education there pro
vided for Rabbis, that heritage of an
cient literature out of which, after
all, the literature of Christendom has
It might be supposed that a rabbi,
so buoyant as Dr. Wise, so eager to
insist upon the self-determination of
others than himself, would be incapa
ble of making enemies. But, as a mat
ter of fact, his autobiography, had
he had time to write it, would have
been called “my thirty years battle
with ministry.” This workaday world
is not yet convinced of the thesis on
which Dr. Wise has based his entire
philosophy. There are Liberal Jews
who express disdain for Conservative
Jews. There are Conservative Jews
who consider that the Liberal Jew is
a renegade. As for Jews and Chris
tians, it is a case of enough said.
In Dr. Wise, there is thus a singu
larly awkward sympathy with the un
derdog. At the first hint of injustice,
the prophetic blood within him boils
and he pours forth the magnificent de-
By RALPH WILLNER
A wonderful man is my Rabbi;
A man, that cannot be beat.
To meet, and to talk to my Rabbi,
Indeed is a wonderful treat.
My Rabbi, has lofty Ideals,
That form his every speech;
I’d sacrifice many a pleasure
To hear by beloved Rabbi Preach.
My Rabbi, never speaks harshly.
No matter how badly he’s hurt;
Forever a smile that is beaming,
With never a word that’s curt.
His face throws the rays of sunshine—
Infectious rays of love.
That gathers your Soul, so gently.
And carriers it up far above.
My Rabbi, is kind in his ways;
His heart is divided for all—
A Mother, with love for her children,
A Rabbi, with love for The Scroll.
My Rabbi at once is a terror.
When speaking to me of my sin.
With eyes that pierce right through you;
Reminding and pleading for Him.
“Transgress not my son, you’ll be passing;
Forget not your days are few;
Forget not the Mission you’re charged with:
The mission of love, like the Dew,
That covers the Earth every morning.
That quenches the thirst of the land.
So must you forever remember
Justice, Love, and your hand.
Must give, till it hurts to another.
Remember an Orphan or two;
For God is their shield and protector.
He is feeding the Orphan through you.
Your troubles are many and weary.
Your Soul is tortured with pain.
Remember, the clouds are passing
And sunshine, will cheer you again.”
A wonderful man is my Rabbi,
A Spring flowing water so pure;
When sick, and the Soul’s depressing
My Rabbi will give you a cure.
nunciations of an Isaiah. To a highly
respected captain of industry like
Judge Gary, whose steel workers hap
pened to be on strike, it came as a
surprise to be told from the pulpit
that he was akin to Russian cossacks,
and as the Scots would say “bang
went” a million dollar synagogue on
which, as it happened, the Rabbi—so
preaching—had set his heart.
Not that he complained—not at all.
His action was deliberate and he knew
what would be its consequences.
There came a great crisis in the
career of Rabbi Wise when his fervor
and personal charm were bespoken
by Temple Emanuel on Fifth Avenue,
New York. For a preacher, still young,
here was a dazzling opportunity and
the authorities were delighted with
his trial sermons. But there was a
phrase in the proposed agreement, of
which Dr. Wise wished to know the
precise meaning. He was to be “sub
ject to” the Board of Control. It was
explained to him that there might be
topics on which he would be expected
to keep silence, and once more his
prophetic blood boiled over. In an open
letter, he proclaimed to the world that
he would not be “tethered and muz
zled.” It was inevitably the end of
his appointment to that pulpit.
Of Woodrow Wilson, it goes with
out saying, he was an enthusiastic
follower. Of the merits of the war, he
never had a doubt in his mind, and to
his congregation, including many Ger
man-born, he declared his belief in
the Allied cause. That he assisted the
cause in many ways, known and un
known at the time, is history.
For he had been, from the first, a
Zionist. To him, a National Home for
the Jews in Palestine was a symbol
of historic prestige, invaluable to
Jews throughout the world. Never
could he forget that, as founder of the
movement in the United States, he
had been told by Herzl that the hope
lay in Great Britain. In 1914, it was
inconceivable to him that the realiza
tion of this hope should be handed to
the Jew by the bloodstained hand of
the unspeakable Turk. So we see him
deep in the counsels which, with
Woodrow Wilson’s approval, resulted
in the Balfour Declaration. But how
does he feel about it now? His spirit,
impetuous yet sound in its objective,
chafes under the compromises of
It is not that he is anything but
what he has always been—that is a
friend of Great Britain. Yet he cannot
regard the studied “impartiality” of
Great Britain as a fulfilment of the
Balfour Declaration. The reason for
that “impartiality” is, he thinks, hon
orable to Britain’s intention. She has
always been the guardian of the na
tives; and of Arab interests, she is
thus peculiarly sensitive. But to Dr.
Wise, there has never been any ques
tion of injustice to the Arab. It was
the Zionists themselves who inserted
the words in the Balfour Declaration
which safeguard Arab interests; and
(Continued on Page 7, Col. 4)