Fostering meaningful connections with Israel is a core value at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
Through programming including our popular congregational missions, we sustain and deepen our ties to the Jewish homeland. Our founder, Rabbi Wise, was prophetic in his understanding that Israel was the cornerstone of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. In 1922, as the Reform movement proclaimed itself to be anti-peoplehood, he established a competing Reform seminary, the Jewish Institute of Religion, right next door to our current building at what is now York Prep School. The Jewish Institute of Religion would place Jewish peoplehood at the heart of its philosophy.
By the time Israel was established in 1948, Stephen Wise had become so identified with the Zionist cause that when Golda Meir toured the country to raise funds for the new state, every million dollars raised was called a “Stephen” in honor of Stephen Wise. Directly outside the main doors of our synagogue sits a stone from the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem; the relic symbolizes Wise’s view that Jerusalem had been restored, and with the restoration of Jerusalem, so too, has the Jewish people.