Like Heller an immigrant, social activist, and rabbi with a degree from Hebrew Union College, Morris Newfield was nonetheless far more circumspect in his actions. Birmingham was a city that limited Social Gospel advocates who wished to remain within the community. Yet questions arise: What if Heller and Newfield had switched locations? Might the differences in their temperaments and personalities have resulted in divergent responses?
Morris Newfield was rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama, from 1895-1940, and in his tenure he played a variety of roles, including serving as chief Jewish spokesman in the larger Birmingham and Alabama communities. His authority lay in the power bestowed upon him by Jews as their spokesperson and by Gentiles who perceived him similarly. These factors are important as we consider this particular rabbi's actions and attitudes toward blacks. As was the case with many rabbis, Newfield's relationship with blacks was a complex one because of the anomalous position of Jews in the South of his time.
Morris Newfield's background as a Hungarian and an early Reform rabbinical student with Isaac Mayer Wise at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati significantly informed the roles he would play as a rabbi in Birmingham. Born in Homanna, Hungary, in 1869, Newfield was a member of a minority population that faced widening opportunities in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The dominant Magyars needed