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Gutheim, James Koppel

GUTHEIM, JAMES KOPPEL

GUTHEIM, JAMES KOPPEL (1817–1886), U.S. Reform rabbi. Gutheim, trained in his native Westphalia as a teacher, immigrated to the United States around 1843. In 1846 he went to Cincinnati to become rabbi of B'nai Yeshurun Congregation (today the Isaac M. Wise Temple), then in 1850 accepted an invitation to become the leader of Shaare Chesed Congregation of New Orleans. In 1853 he became ḥazzan of the New Orleans Spanish-Portuguese Congregation, the Dispersed of Judah. After New Orleans was captured from the Confederacy, Gutheim refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Union and went into voluntary exile, serving the Jews of Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, from 1863 to 1865. He returned to New Orleans after the war, and from 1868 preached in English at Temple Emanu-El of New York City. He was highly regarded as a pulpiteer in New York, and many of his sermons and addresses were printed in the Jewish Times, which published a volume of his efforts entitled Temple Pulpit (1872). Gutheim was the author of many hymns in English. He also prepared a translation of the fourth volume of Heinrich *Graetz's History of the Jews, of which the first five chapters were printed in the Jewish Times as early as 1869. The volume itself was published by the American Jewish Publication Society in 1874, marking the first appearance in America of Graetz's epoch-making book. Meanwhile, Gutheim had decided to return to New Orleans in 1872 to serve a new Reform congregation, Temple Sinai, which had been organized in 1870 and had already built a new synagogue, probably in order to attract Gutheim back to the city. Gutheim became the acknowledged leader of the Jews of New Orleans, and held important civic posts as well. He was a close friend and faithful supporter of Isaac Mayer *Wise in the development of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Hebrew Union College.

bibliography:

B.W. Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War (1951), 47–50; Early Jews of New Orleans (1969), 251–4; L.C. Littman, Stages in the Development of a Jewish Publication Society (unpubl. M.A.H.L. thesis, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, n.y.c.), 75, 78–93; J.G. Heller, As Yesterday When It Is Past (1942), 32–41; M. Heller, Jubilee Souvenir of Temple Sinai (1922), 48–52; L. Shpall, in: Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 12 (1929), 461–7.

[Bertram Wallace Korn]

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