TABLE OF CONTENTS
Manuscript Collection No. 53
Moses J. Gries was born in Newark, New Jersey on January 25, 1868, the son of Jacob and Katharina Frances Holzer Gries. In 1881 he was accepted into the Hebrew Union College. For the next eight years he participated in classes at HUC while also attending Hughes High School and McMicken College (now the University of Cincinnati). In 1889 Gries received a Bachelor of Letters degree from the University of Cincinnati and was ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union College.
Gries began his rabbinical career at the Mizpah Congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He remained there until the autumn of 1892 when he became rabbi of Cleveland's Tifereth Israel Congregation (The Temple) - a position he retained for the next 25 years.
Gries's association with Tifereth Israel Congregation was illustrious - both for the growth of the congregation and the development of radical Reform Judaism. Soon after assuming his post in Cleveland, Gries supervised the congregation's move from Huron Street into a new temple on the corner of Central and Fifth streets. During the 25 year period when Gries was rabbi the Temple's membership increased 500%. And at one point during his tenure, the Temple's sabbath school was the largest in the world.
Tifereth Israel Congregation, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Gries, embodied many of the radical Reform principals of the day: the Temple was one of the first to have women on the Board of Trustees, the Temple's services were held on Sunday, there was little Hebrew in the liturgy, and the Torah was not read from the scroll. Gries encouraged the Temple and its services to be open to all. He advocated that a temple be more than just a place for worship or religious instruction - he wanted it to become a center of all congregational and communal life. Thus Tifereth Israel Congregation became one of the first congregations to advocate and conduct an "open temple."
Gries was also involved in many other activities both locally and nationally. He was a charter member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and held many CCAR offices, including president (1913-1915). Gries was a founder and on the first Board of Trustees of Cleveland's Federation of Jewish Charities. He helped found and was first president of the Cleveland Council of Jewish Women (1893-1896). He founded the Jewish Religious Education Association of Ohio and was named its first president (1906-1908). He served as president of the Ohio Rabbinical Association and of the Cleveland Council Educational Alliance (1904). Gries was a member of the Hebrew Union College Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Relief Committee. He participated in the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, the Excelsor Club, the City Club, and the local B'nai B'rith lodge. In 1910 Gries published the Jewish Community of Cleveland, a history of Cleveland's Jewry.
In 1916 Gries shocked his congregation by announcing his intention to retire in 1917, after his 25th anniversary at the Temple. In June 1917 Gries preached his last sermon at the Temple and then withdrew from active rabbinical life.
Moses J. Gries died on October 31, 1918 in Cleveland. He was survived by his wife, Frances Hays Gries, whom he married in June 1898, and his two sons, Robert Hays Gries ( 1900-1966) and Lincoln Hays Gries (b. 1905).
The Moses J. Gries papers consist of correspondence, sermons and addresses, newspaper clippings, certificates and personal items which reflect Gries's rabbinical career and activities. Also included in the collection are 19th century correspondence and documents of Gries's parents.
This collection is arranged in four (4) series:
Terms of Access
The collection is open for use; no restrictions apply.
Terms of Reproduction and Use
Copyright restrictions may apply. Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce, with exceptions for fair use, may be obtained through the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio. Please address queries to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. For more information, see the American Jewish Archives copyright information webpage.
Footnotes and bibliographic references should refer to the Moses J. Gries Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:
[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-53. Moses J. Gries Papers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Moses J. Gries papers were presented to the American Jewish Archives by Gries's sons, Lincoln Hays Gries and Robert Hays Gries, both of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1948, 1950, and 1961.
Processed by M. Carolyn Dellenbach and Mark Cowett, February 1979.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the AJA's online catalog.
Persons and Families
Gries, Moses J., -- 1868-1918 -- Manuscripts
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Congregation Tifereth Israel (Cleveland, Ohio). -- Photographs
Jews -- Ohio -- Cleveland
Genres and Forms
Jewish sermons, American
Rabbis -- Ohio -- Cleveland