BERNAYS , family originating in Germany with branches elsewhere in Central Europe and the U.S.
isaac ben jacob bernays (1792–1849), rabbi of Hamburg, Germany, was born in Mainz, studied at Wuerzburg University and at the yeshivah of Abraham Bing and was appointed rabbi of Hamburg in 1821. While Bernays, who preferred the Sephardi designation of ḥakham, was committed to the preservation of inherited customs and ceremonies, he did modernize the curriculum of the local talmud torah and regularly gave sermons in the German vernacular. In his struggle against Reform in the community, Bernays formulated elements of a "modern orthodoxy" which influenced the views of his disciple, Samson Raphael *Hirsch. In 1842 Bernays interdicted the Reform siddur, then republished by the Hamburg Temple Congregation, stating that a Jew did not fulfill his religious duties if he read his tefillot from this prayer book. Der biblische Orient, the only work attributed to him, is considered by many to have been written by or in cooperation with J.A. von Kalb, a Christian friend of his from Munich.
Isaac's eldest son jacob (1824–1881), born in Hamburg, was a philologist and classicist. He taught Greek at Bonn University (1848–53), at which time he published the Teubner edition of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (1850), Heraklitische Studien (1850), and Ueber Spinozas hebraeische Grammatik (1850). Unlike his younger brother, Michael, Jacob was attached to Judaism and when, because of it, he could not gain promotion at Bonn he left and helped to found the Breslau *Jewish Theological Seminary in 1853/54. Jacob mainly taught classics, history, German literature and Jewish philosophy. He encouraged the publication of treatises with the annual report, himself contributing three (on the poetic fragments of Phocylides, 1856; on the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus, 1861; and Theophrastus' lost work On Piety, 1886). His greatest work, Grundzuege der verlorenen Abhandlung des Aristoteles ueber die Wirkung der Tragoedie (1857), on Aristotle's treatise which preceded the Poetics, aroused considerable criticism. In 1866 Jacob finally overcame the prejudices at Bonn and was appointed (extraordinary) professor and chief librarian, but still maintained an interest in the seminary at Breslau. His collected works were issued in 1885 (edited by Usener; reprinted in 1971).
Isaac's younger son, michael bernays (1834–1897), was a distinguished literary critic and historian. He was professor of German literature at the University of Munich (1874–90) and wrote pioneering textual studies of Goethe. After his indifference towards Judaism led him to convert to Protestantism in 1856 his family broke with him completely. Isaac's other son berman bernays (d. 1879), merchant and secretary to the Viennese economist, Lorenz von Stein, was father of martha bernays (1861–1951) who married Sigmund *Freud.
paul isaac bernays (1888–1977), mathematician, is best known as the coauthor with D. Hilbert of Grundlagen der Mathematik (2 vols., 1934–39), which is considered a classic work. Bernays, who was born in London, became Hilbert's assistant in Goettingen in 1917, and was appointed professor in 1922. In 1934 Bernays left Nazi Germany for Zurich, Switzerland, where he taught at the Polytechnicum. In the postwar era, Bernays was mainly concerned with the philosophy of mathematics. In "Some Empirical Aspects of Mathematics" (1965), he argued that his discipline has an objective ("phenomenological") reality distinct from the natural world. Bernays wrote numerous papers on this subject, coauthored with Abraham Fraenkel Axiomatic Set Theory (1958), and coedited Information and Prediction in Science (1965). A book in his honor entitled Logica, Studia Paul Bernays Dedicata was published in Switzerland in 1959. Edward L. *Bernays (1891–1995), was a public relations expert whose methods revolutionized the field of public relations.
[Paul G. Werskey]
Fuerst, in: mgwj, 58 (1914), 516–8; Bach, ibid., 83 (1939), 533–47; Duckesz, in: jjlg, 5 (1907), 297–322; Heinemann, in: Zion, 16 (1951), 44–90; M. Fraenkel, Jacob Bernays (Ger., 1932); L. Wickert, in: Historische Zeitschrift, 205 (1967), 269–94. add. bibliography: H.I. Bach, Jacob Bernays (1974); Poppel, in: lbiyb, 28 (1983), 453–61; L. Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (1998).