The Rescuers

"A Momentous Encounter: Reform Judaism Challenges Orthodoxy in Nineteenth-Century New York"

Lecture by Professor Howard B. Rock


Friday, November 15 @ 4:00 pm
Performing Arts Center / Recital Hall
University at Albany Uptown Campus


Event: Lecture by Howard B. Rock, Professor of History, Emeritus at Florida International University

Venue: Performing Arts Center/Recital Hall, UAlbany Uptown Campus

The Enlightenment, the notion that science and reason could lead humankind to a more perfect level of civilization, was always a challenge to traditional Judaism. This included the small communities of British and Jeffersonian New York. The major encounter, however, came in the late 1840s when the foremost Orthodox (traditional) and Reform (Jewish Enlightenment) thinkers resided at or near New York. There Reformers began a passionate dialogue that advocated radical changes to Jewish prayer and practice and attacked the Orthodoxy as leading to the eventual demise of Judaism.

For five years New York was the epicenter in the American confrontation between the two denominations of Judaism. This continued through the Civil War in which contrasting outlooks led to contrasting views on slavery and politics.

Howard B. Rock is Professor of History, Emeritus at Florida International University where he taught for thirty-five years. His early writing and research covered early American history, particularly the Revolutionary and Jeffersonian eras in New York City. His most recent work is Haven of Liberty, New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865, the first volume of the trilogy, City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York City. (2012, New York University Press) He is the author/editor of six books, most recently, coauthored with Deborah Dash Moore, Cityscapes: A History of New York in Images.

Researching New York is sponsored by the University at Albany Department of History and History Graduate Student Organization and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. Cosponsored by the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries and the Judaic Studies Program, with additional support from The New York State Historical Association and the Farmer's Museum, and the University at Albany College of Arts & Sciences, the Office for Research, and University Auxiliary Services. For program updates, registration information, and additional details, go to