Beer, Bernhard

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BEER, BERNHARD (1801–1861), German scholar, community leader, and bibliophile. For nearly 30 years Beer served as head of the Dresden Jewish community and its schools. He founded various charitable organizations, and in 1829 joined in establishing a Mendelssohn Society for the furtherance of scholarship, art, and trades among Jewish youth. Through his writings and personal active efforts, Beer was able to wage aneventually successful struggle for the civic equality of the Jews in Saxony. Although he observed traditional practice and was emotionally attached to Jewish customs, Beer rejected Orthodoxy intellectually and aesthetically in favor of moderate reforms, especially in liturgy. He was the first Jew to give a German sermon in a Dresden synagogue. Beer's religious views were similar to those of his close friend, Zacharias *Frankel. Nevertheless the reformers *Geiger and *Holdheim also accorded him respect and admiration, and Beer was regarded as a mediating influence between the proponents of tradition and those of reform. Beer wrote numerous scholarly articles and reviews which appeared in Frankel's Zeitschrift and Monatsschrift as well as in Orient, Kerem Ḥemed, and other journals. His books include Das Buch der Jubilaeen und sein Verhaeltniss zu den Midraschim (1856), Juedische Literaturbriefe (1857), and Leben Abrahams nach Auffassung der juedischen Sage (1859). He also translated into German, with additions, Solomon Munk's La Philosophie chez les Juifs (Leipzig, 1852). The extensive and valuable library which Beer acquired during his lifetime was divided after his death between the Breslau Seminary and the University of Leipzig, where Beer received his doctorate in 1834.


Frankel, in: mgwj, 11 (1862); G. Wolf, Ohel Issakhar, Catalogue of B. Beer's Library in Dresden (Ger. and Heb., 1863). add. bibliography: R. Heuer (ed.), Lexikon deutsch-juedischer Autoren, 1 (1992), 435–40; A. Braemer, Rabbiner Zacharias Frankel (2000), index.

[Michael A. Meyer]