Einhorn, David

views updated May 29 2018


EINHORN, DAVID (1809–1879), Reform rabbi and theologian. Einhorn was born in Dispeck, Bavaria, and received his rabbinical training at Furth, near his birthplace. He studied philosophy at Erlangen, Wurzburg, and Munich. His thinking was influenced by the ideas of F.W. Schelling. In 1838 he was elected rabbi of the community at Wellhausen near Uffenheim, but the Bavarian government would not confirm his appointment on account of his liberal views. Four years later he became Landesrabbiner of Birkenfeld in the Grand Duchy of Oldenberg. At the Frankfurt Rabbinical Conference of 1845, he took a decided view in favor of introducing the vernacular into the service and of eliminating prayers for the restoration of sacrifices and a Jewish state. Three years earlier, in coming to the defense of the position taken up by Abraham *Geiger in his controversy with Solomon Titkin, he had rejected the divine authority of the Talmud and upheld the right to diverge from ceremonial laws.

In 1847 Einhorn succeeded Samuel *Holdheim as chief rabbi of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. There he was involved in controversy with Franz *Delitzsch, the Christian Hebraist, for having pronounced a blessing in the synagogue over an uncircumcised child. Einhorn's radical religious standpoint jeopardized his position. In January 1852 he became rabbi of the Reform congregation of Budapest, but after two months the government closed the temple. While living in Budapest, Einhorn began his work Das Prinzip des Mosaismus, but completed only one volume (1854).

Denied any opportunity in Europe, Einhorn became rabbi of the Har Sinai Congregation of Baltimore (1855). His arrival in the United States coincided with the Cleveland Rabbinical Conference, which, under the leadership of Isaac Mayer *Wise, adopted a platform designed to permit a broadly based union among the various tendencies in American Judaism. Einhorn regarded this platform as treachery to the cause of Reform and denounced it violently. This marked the beginning of a bitter feud between Einhorn, the uncompromising Reformer, and I.M. Wise, who was ready to moderate his Reform in the interests of unity. Einhorn expounded his ideas in his monthly magazine Sinai (Ger., 7 vols., 1856–62) and gave them expression in his prayer book Olat Tamid (1856), which was no mere shortening of the traditional liturgy, but a new work written mainly in German.

Einhorn's sojourn in Baltimore was cut short in 1861, when his unsparing denunciation of slavery placed him in danger from the mob. He became rabbi of Congregation Kenesseth Israel, Philadelphia, and in 1866 moved to New York as rabbi of Congregation Adath Israel, which was later known as Temple Beth El. His was the dominant personality at the Philadelphia Rabbinical Conference which met in 1869 and adopted a thoroughgoing Reform platform.

Einhorn's farewell sermon, delivered after a quarter of a century in America, contained a plea for the cultivation of German as the vehicle for the ideas of Reform Judaism. If the dogmatic Reform upon which he insisted dominated neither the Union of American Hebrew Congregations nor Hebrew Union College at their inception, his spirit came to influence them later. Kaufman *Kohler, his son-in-law and disciple, formulated the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, which was the basis of American Reform for a generation, and later became president of Hebrew Union College; Einhorn's Olat Tamid served as the model for the Union Prayer Book.

A letter which Einhorn wrote in 1844 summed up his theological system: "In all its stages, Judaism shows its capacity for continuous development both as to its form and its spirit, insofar as the latter became ever clearer and purer in the human consciousness; and no Israelite who knows his religion will deny it the power of perfectibility. Its essence, which is truth uniting all men, was from the beginning intended to overcome the exclusiveness attached to the form, which is national; but insofar as the latter served as an armor of protection and as the priestly garb of Israel among the nations, it cannot with impunity be cast off until the former in its entire inner force and its all-encompassing extent will have penetrated the whole human family, and Israel (Mosaism) will have fulfilled its priestly mission at the arrival of the Messianic era." Little has been published concerning the personality of David Einhorn or analyzing his thought.


K. Kohler (ed.), David Einhorn, Memorial Volume (1911) (contains a selection of his sermons); idem, in: ccary, 19 (1909), 215–70.

[Sefton D. Temkin]

Einhorn, David

views updated May 14 2018


EINHORN, DAVID (1886–1973), Yiddish poet and publicist. Born in Korelichi (Belorussia), his earliest poems were in Hebrew, but under the influence of socialist ideas he turned to Yiddish and made his debut in Bundist publications. His first volumes of verse, Shtile Gezangen ("Quiet Chants," 1909) and Mayne Lider ("My Poems," 1912), acclaimed by leading critics, expressed the tension between the declining traditional order and the heralded new society. In 1910 Einhorn helped organize the Boris Kletskin press, and was also the secretary of S.Y. *Abramovitsh. In 1912, after six months in prison for suspected revolutionary activities, Einhorn left Russia, moving to Paris and then in 1913 to Berne, Switzerland. There he studied at the university, wrote for Di Yidishe Velt and the children's periodicalGrininke Beymelekh, and edited Di Fraye Shtime (1916–17). In 1917 his book, Tsu a Yidishe Tokhter (a present to his wife), appeared. He lived briefly in Warsaw, where he wrote for the Bundist Lebns-Fragn. In 1920 he moved to Berlin, and later, warning of the coming destruction of Europe, to Paris. He was among the first contributors to the Algemayne Entsiklopedye. In 1940 Einhorn immigrated to the U.S. and became a regular correspondent for the New York Forverts, publishing a weekly column (1956) "Tsvishn Tsvey Veltn" ("Between Two Worlds"), memoirs of the Yiddish literary world. Einhorn was active as a translator and editor, proclaimed a classical, coherent, and grammatically principled style (his poetry was criticized, especially by H. *Leivick, for its stylistic simplicity), and preferred traditional Jewish motifs, his work becoming progressively more national in character. He was quite popular among Hebrew authors such as *Agnon and *Brenner.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1928), 81–86; lnyl, 1 (1956), 73–6. add. bibliography: Sh. Kuperman, in: Khulyot, 8 (2004), 177–88.

[Ruth Wisse /

Shifra Kuperman (2nd ed.)]

Einhorn, David

views updated May 11 2018

Einhorn, David (1809–79). Reform Jewish theologian. Because he could not find rabbinical employment in Europe on account of his radical views, he emigrated to the United States in 1855 and became rabbi of Congregation Adath Israel, New York, in 1866. He strongly believed in introducing vernacular prayers and rejected the divine origin of the Talmud. In his view, ‘the doctrinal and moral law of Scripture’ is ‘the imperishable spirit of Judaism’; other laws are marks of the covenant, which can change with the times if necessary.

About this article

David Einhorn

All Sources -
Updated Aug 13 2018 About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic