Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi: An Autobiography: The German and Early American Years

Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi: An Autobiography: The German and Early American Years

Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi: An Autobiography: The German and Early American Years

Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi: An Autobiography: The German and Early American Years

Synopsis

Joachim Prinz (1902-1988) was one of the most extraordinary and innovative figures in modern Jewish history. Never one for conformity, Prinz developed and modeled a new rabbinical role that set him apart from his colleagues in Weimar Germany. Provocative, strikingly informal and determinedly anti-establishment, he repeatedly stirred up controversy. During the Hitler years, Prinz strove to preserve the self-respect and dignity of a Jewish community that was vilified on a daily basis by Nazi propaganda. After immigrating to the United States in 1937, he soon became a prominent rabbi in New Jersey, drawing thousands to his unpredictable sermons. Prinz's autobiography, superbly introduced and annotated by Michael A. Meyer, offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and personality of this unconventional and influential rabbi.

Excerpt

When, a few years ago, it was suggested to me that I look at a manuscript of an autobiography by Rabbi Joachim Prinz (1902–1988), my assumption was that, as is true of most such writing, it would be of interest to family and friends, perhaps belonged in an archives, but was unlikely to attract a larger readership. To my surprise, I found the life story of this provocative Liberal and Zionist rabbi in Germany and later in America extraordinarily fascinating, had difficulty putting it down, and soon resolved to prepare it for publication. My reading had convinced me that the Prinz story had broader significance for at least two reasons. First, Prinz had been one of the foremost spiritual leaders of German Jewry during its darkest years. His experiences shed light on that community’s struggle to maintain its self-respect when Nazi authorities were making every effort to extinguish it. From the pulpit and in the lecture hall, Prinz provided what can properly be called a form of spiritual resistance. Second, Joachim Prinz was a most extraordinary rabbi. He brought innovations to the Liberal rabbinate that in large measure still characterize it today. His uninhibited lifestyle, a product of Weimar culture, broke clerical taboos to the point where he was discharged from rabbinical duties, and his candid description of his sex life is astounding. Finally, his commitment to universal values led him to become a leader of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, a friend and co-worker of Martin Luther King, Jr. Thus Prinz’s autobiography possesses attraction not only for the members of Temple B’nai Abraham, which he served for nearly forty years, first in Newark and then in Livingston, New Jersey, many of whom still remember him fondly. Rather, his recollections will likewise draw in students of modern Jewish history and of Nazi Germany, as well as general readers interested in the human struggle for spiritual self-assertion in the face of unprecedented oppression.

The process of preparing the manuscript for publication took somewhat longer than anticipated, requiring careful editing of a dictated and probably never reviewed text to correct spelling and syntactical errors and to eliminate repetition. It was also necessary to check all the historical references that could be located and supply explanatory notes relating to persons and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.