Rabbi Hecht was born in Hungary and immigrated to the United States in 1868. Prior to his service at Emanu-El, Rabbi Hecht presided over a congregation in Montgomery, Alabama from 1876 until 1888.
During his stay in Milwaukee, he was well respected and promoted the concept of progressive reform. According to an 1892 issue of the Evening Wisconsin newspaper, “There are few broader-minded men, more patriotic, liberty-loving men. He is deeply interested in charitable work, and in many places is found working side by side with Christian ministers.” (Swichkow, Louis J. and Lloyd P. Gartner. The History of the Jews of Milwaukee, p. 185.)
A highlight of his tenure was the 25th anniversary of Congregation Emanu-El in 1894. Among those attending the celebration were Rabbi Isaac Wise of Cincinnati, Dr. Emil Hirsch of Chicago and Rabbi Isaac Moses, a former Rabbi of Emanu-El. As Rabbi Hecht later noted, the event “was truly inspiring and uplifting, while the eloquence and wisdom of the speakers deeply impressed themselves upon the vast audience.” (Hecht, Sigmund. My First Decade with Congregation Emanu-El, p. 37.)
After leaving Emanu-El in 1899, Rabbi Hecht led Congregation B’nai B’rith in Los Angeles until his death in 1925.
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