First Advisor

David A. Horowitz

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Stephen S. (Stephen Samuel) Wise -- 1874-1949, Judaism and social problems -- Oregon -- Portland -- 20th century, Social justice -- Religious aspects -- Judaism



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 113 p.)


Rabbi Stephen S. Wise presents an excellent subject for the study of Jewish social progressivism in Portland in the early years of the twentieth-century. While Wise demonstrated a commitment to social justice before, during, and after his Portland years, it is during his ministry at congregation Beth Israel that he developed a full-fledged social program that was unique and remarkable by reaching out not only within his congregation but more importantly, by engaging the Christian community of Portland in interfaith activities. In so doing, Wise broke off from the traditional role expected of rabbis by bringing social causes to the fore over traditional Jewish observances. This thesis examines the years and contributions of Stephen Wise in Portland between 1900 and 1906. An overall study of the Jewish community in Portland is presented along with a general description of the condition of how both German and Eastern European Jews through their settlement, business occupation, and pace of assimilation came to envision their integration into the American mainstream. In order to fully appreciate Wise's commitment to social progressivism in Portland, this study will look to detail how Liberal Judaism, Ethical Culture, and the Social Gospel movement provided Wise with the means to combine his rabbinate with public advocacy in the prophetic tradition. The thesis then focuses on Wise's social activities and struggles against child labor, gambling, and prostitution with a special interest on the Chinese Exclusion Acts that struck the small but active Chinese community of Portland.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier