Rabbi Isaac Leeser, circa 1868.
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Rabbi Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), half-length portrait, left profile.

Credit: Library of Congress

 A brilliant theologian and social activist, Isaac Leeser led Philadelphia’s Congregation Mikveh Israel between 1829 and 1850. Heralded as the nation's leading advocate and defender of Judaism, Leeser in 1843 founded The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, the first monthly journal in the nation to address Jewish issues, which he continued to write for, edit, and publish until his death in 1868.  Under Leeser's auspices, Philadelphia became the center for Hebrew printing and Jewish thought in America.

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