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Moses Gries - Rabbi of Temple–Tifereth Israel

10311 Lake Shore Boulevard
Rabbi Moses Jacob Gries
Rabbi Moses Jacob Gries

Francis (Fannie) Hays was born on December 4, 1876, the daughter of Kaufman and Lizzie Hays. She married Moses Gries on June 15, 1898. They had two sons: Robert born in 1900, and Lincoln born in 1905. Both attended Bratenahl School. Lincoln Gries recalled climbing to the second floor by an outside ladder because the interior stairways were unfinished.

Moses Jacob Gries was born on January 25, 1868, in Newark, New Jersey, to Jacob and Kate Gries. He attended the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College, graduating and receiving ordination in 1889.

During World War I, Fannie served in the Bratenahl Red Cross and canteen service. She was a member of the Cuyahoga County Republican Executive committee, Council Educational Alliance, and honorary trustee of the Council of Jewish Women and Temple Women’s Association.

Moses served in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before becoming Rabbi of The Temple on November 20, 1892. He was the first native-born HUC-educated rabbi in Cleveland and was for developing Reform Judaism and improving Christian-Jewish relations. Gries believed Reformed Judaism should be Americanized. He radically changed the congregation, discarding German, adopting the Union Prayer Book, moving Sabbath services to Sunday, substituting English for Hebrew, removing Hebrew from the religious school curriculum, and creating The Temple Women’s Association, Temple Library, Temple Alumni Association, Educational League, Temple Orchestra, and Temple Society.

Gries was politically progressive, a founder of the Citizens League of Greater Cleveland, and active in ecumenical affairs. He helped found the Council Educational Alliance, a settlement house of the National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland Section in 1899, and the Federation for Jewish Charities in 1903 to coordinate Jewish charitable activities.

Gries protested the organized massacre of the Jews and urged help for the immigrants, yet remained removed from most Orthodox, Yiddish-speaking groups. He denounced Zionism, believing it raised questions concerning Jewish identity and loyalty that threatened the Jewish community in America. For health reasons, Gries resigned from the Temple in 1917.

Moses Gries died on October 30, 1918, and buried in Mayfield Cemetery. Fanny died on June 8, 1933, in New York City.