Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the 1930s, James Wax served as the rabbi of Temple Israel in Memphis, TN, in the 1960s. Rabbi Wax supported racial justice, and during this period was a member of the Memphis Committee on Community Relations which worked towards integration. He also played an important role in resolving the sanitation workers' strike, which dragged on for many months, beginning in February 1968. Rabbi Wax knew Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb, who had at one time been a member of his congregation, and spoke to Loeb alone and with other delegates on several occasions to negotiate an end to the strike. After Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis supporting the sanitation workers' strike, Wax helped to arrange for the secret payment to the state of the funds necessary to pay the salary increases for the sanitation workers. Just days after King's assassination, Rabbi Wax shared his views of King with his congregation in a sermon.