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WOLSEY, LOUIS

WOLSEY, LOUIS (8 Jan. 1877-4 Mar. 1953), the first American-born and trained rabbi to serve ANSHE CHESED CONGREGATION, was born in Midland, Mich. to William and Frances (Krueger) Wolsey. He graduated from Hebrew Union College and was ordained in 1899. He served at Congregation B'nai Israel in Little Rock, Ark. before being hired by Anshe Chesed in 1907 when its membership was 150; by 1925, it was 1,300 and the congregation had moved to their new Euclid Ave. Temple. Wolsey embraced a conservative view of Reform Judaism, countering the Classical Reform in vogue and engaging in a bitter public debate with Rabbi MOSES J. GRIES of the TEMPLE. Following Gries's death in 1918, Wolsey moved into the mainstream of Classical Reform. Wolsey was interested in Jewish education, revitalizing the Anshe Chesed Sunday school from 135 pupils in 1908 to 650 in 1916 and supporting CLEVELAND HEBREW SCHOOLS. By 1918 Wolsey was an outspoken critic of political Zionism, in 1943 founding the American Council for Judaism, an organization of Reform rabbis and lay leaders opposed to the perceived pro-Zionist stance taken by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Three years later he renounced his membership in the ACJ, in 1948 calling for support for the state of Israel. Wolsey was treasurer, corresponding secretary, vice-president, and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He left Cleveland in 1925 to be the rabbi at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, where he remained until his retirement in 1947. He married Florence Wiener on 12 June 1912. They had two children: Allon and Jonathan.


Anshe Chesed Records, WRHS.