Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy

By David Ellenson | Go to book overview

Preface

Nineteenth-century German Jewry experienced notable departures from the established patterns of the past. The century witnessed a veritable revolution in the legal status, occupational distribution, cultural habits, and religious beliefs and behavior of central and western European Jewry. Under the impact of Enlightenment and emancipation, Judaism underwent a transition--not everywhere uniform in shape and intensity--from European traditionalisms to the modern era of contemporary Judaisms. Modern varieties of Judaism, each a response to the changing time, emerged in Germany during the 1800s. Each deserves study for its attempt to adapt and modify Judaism to this new challenge in Jewish history, as well as for its effort to maintain a link to the past.

No group in nineteenth-century Germany is more representative of this effort than modern Orthodoxy. As one apologete, Hermann Schwab , has written, "German-Jewish Orthodoxy was Sinai Judaism." Yet in talking of German Orthodoxy, even Schwab is forced to concede that "some of its characteristics could be traced to its German surroundings."1 The German Orthodox were not one with the antimodernist Hungarian rabbi the Hatam Sofer ( 1762- 1839), who was eager to endorse a total rejection of the contemporary, cosmopolitan world. In Germany, the reaction of such spokesmen as the Frankfurt rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch ( 1808- 1888) was to make peace, as far as possible, with many aspects of modernity and the transformations it wrought in Jewish status and culture. Simultaneously, they insisted on the eternality of the Oral Law. Hirsch

-ix-

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Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Man and The Challenges of His Times 1
  • 2 - The Quest For Religious Authority 21
  • 3 - The Confrontations With Jewish Religious And Cultural Pluralism 73
  • 4 - The Tasks of Education 115
  • Conclusion 166
  • Notes 171
  • Bibliography 194
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 213
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