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November 6, 2015



Washington, D.C. -  America's foremost Jewish leader in the 1940s took extreme steps to prevent Jewish dissidents from challenging President Roosevelt's weak response to the Holocaust, according to a new book.



"Rabbi Stephen S. Wise actively undermined Jewish dissidents--from both the left and the right--who tried to challenge the Roosevelt administration's abandonment of European Jewry," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, author of the new book, 'The Anguish of a Jewish Leader: Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust.'  "To prevent activists from having a voice in Jewish policymaking, Wise suppressed their rallies, urged members of Congress to boycott them, pressured newspapers to refuse their advertisements, and even encouraged government officials to 'draft or deport' activist leaders."



'The Anguish of a Jewish Leader' is Dr. Medoff's sixteenth book on the Holocaust and Jewish history. It is the first major scholarly study of Rabbi Wise in more than 30 years, and the first ever book-length study of Wise's response to the Holocaust.



Additional highlights from the book:



-- President Roosevelt repeatedly promised Rabbi Wise that he would help rescue Jewish refugees and create a Jewish state, but never did so. In one instance, the president assured Wise (in 1944) that he would issue a strong statement supporting Zionism, but then FDR watered down Wise's draft to avoid an explicit commitment to Jewish statehood.



-- In postwar interviews, many of Rabbi Wise's closest friends and colleagues argued that Wise's personal and political devotion to FDR undermined his willingness to challenge Roosevelt's lethargic response to the Holocaust.



-- Rabbi Wise's medical problems severely hampered his ability to mobilize the Jewish community to respond to the Holocaust; and the lack of democracy in the organizations that Wise headed made it extremely difficult for alternative leaders to emerge.



-- Wise, like many American Jewish leaders, found it difficult to break out of a business-as- usual mindset. Even at the most critical moments of the Holocaust, Wise diverted much of his attention to numerous lesser issues and activities.



'The Anguish of a Jewish Leader' has been published by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, based in Washington, D.C. The Institute is using an innovative method to maximize circulation of the new book: choosing public education over profits, the book is being distributed only as a free downloadable PDF from and as a 99-cent Kindle book from





ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE:  The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located in Washington, D.C., is a research and education institute focusing on America’s response to the Holocaust.  It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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