Jacob Rader Marcus was born in New Haven, Pennsylvania on March
15, 1896. He was the son of Aaron Marcus and Jennie Rader (Reider).
When he was four years of age his family moved from Pennsylvania
to Wheeling, West Virginia. Though he became a bar mitzvah in
accordance with Judaisms traditional rite, Marcus first
encountered Reform Judaism when he attended religious school
at Wheelings Eoff Street Reform Congregation, whose rabbi,
Harry Levi, was a graduate of the Hebrew Union College (HUC).
Reform Judaisms commitment to Wissenschaft des Judentums,
the scientific study of Judaism, appealed to Marcus.
Impressed by the young Marcuss scholarly diligence and
ardent interest in Judaism, Rabbi Levi urged him to consider
a career in the Reform rabbinate. In the fall of 1911, a fifteen-year-old
Marcus traveled to Cincinnati to begin his rabbinical training
at the Hebrew Union College. With the exception of his two years
of military service during World War I, and his years of graduate
study in Europe, Marcus spent the rest of his life in Cincinnati.