In the early years of the American Reform movement neither Zionism nor Hebraism was favored, except by very few. Among these few were two brothers, Jacob and Max Raisin. Born in Russian Poland and growing up in New York, they were fluent not only in Yiddish and English, but also in Haskalah Hebrew.
Remarkably, even as teenagers, they were able to publish in Hebrew periodicals like Ha-Ivri, and Max even managed to write for Ahad Ha-Am’s Ha-Shiloah. Their reference group in New York was a small circle of Hebraically and Zionistically oriented young men. And yet both Jacob and Max decided to study for the Reform rabbinate at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, had high praise for its founder, Isaac Mayer Wise, and became successful Reform Rabbis, Jacob in Charleston and Max in Paterson, New Jersey.
Each published extensively in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. Each was a defender of Reform Judaism within the milieu of the modern Hebrew reading public. The fact that the College of Charleston holds the papers of Jacob Raisin, including some correspondence between the two brothers, made a visit to the collection essential for this project.