Stephen Samuel Wise

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Stephen Samuel Wise.

Stephen Samuel Wise (17 March 1874 – 19 April 1949) was a Jewish rabbi and an influential supporter of Jewish interests and Zionism.


He was born in Budapest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son and grandson of rabbis. His father emigrated to the United States.

Wise was a founder of the New York Federation of Zionist Societies in 1897, which led in the formation of the national Federation of American Zionists (FAZ), a forerunner of the Zionist Organization of America. At the Second Zionist Congress (Basel, 1898), he was a delegate and secretary for the English language. Wise served as honorary secretary of FAZ, in close cooperation with Theodor Herzl until the latter's death in 1904. In 1918, he helped organize the first American Jewish Congress. Wise served as founding president of the World Jewish Congress from 1936 to until his death in 1949. He was succeeded by his friend Nahum Goldmann.

In 1914, Wise, and other influential Jews, co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1917, he participated in the effort to convince President Woodrow Wilson to approve the Balfour declaration.

Wise was a close friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1933, while acting as honorary president of the American Jewish Congress, Wise led efforts for a Jewish Boycott of Germany.

During the Second World War, Wise was elected co-chair of the American Zionist Emergency Council, a forerunner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He supported early Holocaust claims.

See also