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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GRIES, MOSES J. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GRIES, MOSES J. (25 Jan. 1868-30 Oct. 1918), proponent of Classical Reform Judaism and spiritual leader of the TEMPLE (1892-1917), was born in Newark, N.J. to Jacob an Kate Gries. He attended the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College, graduating and receiving ordination in 1889. Gries served in Chattanooga, Tenn. before coming to the Temple, the first native-born HUC-educated rabbi in Cleveland. Gries, believing Reformed Judaism should be Americanized, radically changed the congregation, discarding German, adopting the Union Prayer Book, moving Sabbath services to Sunday, substituting English for Hebrew, removing Hebrew from the religious school curriculum, and creating congregational groups: the Temple Women's Assoc., Temple Library, Temple Alumni Assoc., Educational League, Temple Orchestra, and Temple Society.

Gries was politically progressive--a founder of the CITIZENS LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND--and active in ecumenical affairs. He helped found the Council Educational Alliance, a settlement house of the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN (NCJW), CLEVELAND SECTION (1899); and the Fed. for Jewish Charities (1903) to coordinate Jewish charitable activities.

Gries protested pogroms and urged help for the immigrants, yet remained removed from the largely Orthodox, Yiddish-speaking group. He denounced Zionism, believing it raised questions concerning Jewish identity and loyalty which threatened the Jewish community in America. For health reasons, Gries resigned from the Temple in 1917, dying a year later. He married Frances (Fannie) Hays on 15 June 1898, daughter of KAUFMAN HAYS†. They had two sons: Robert and Lincoln. Gries was buried in Mayfield Cemetery.

Rabbi Moses Gries Family Papers, WRHS.

Rabbi Moses J. Gries Papers, American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Last Modified: 16 Jul 1997 03:40:04 PM

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