Bettelheim, Albert (Aaron) Siegfried

views updated


BETTELHEIM, ALBERT (Aaron) SIEGFRIED (1830–1890), U.S. rabbi. Bettelheim was born in Galgoc, Hungary. He served as correspondent on Jewish affairs for several periodicals, director of a network of Jewish schools, editor of a political weekly Elöre ("Forward"), and rabbi of a small congregation. Bettelheim's progressive political views brought him into trouble with the government, and he emigrated to America in 1867. He served as rabbi in Philadelphia, and on the faculty of the short-lived Maimonides College. He also acquired a medical degree. In 1875 Bettelheim accepted a pulpit in San Francisco. There he organized a society for Hebrew study for Christian clergymen, and was active in civic affairs, especially prison reform. He coedited a weekly, the Jewish Times and Observer, which represented the traditionalists' views. In 1887 he returned East to a pulpit in Baltimore. A foundation to aid needy scholars in Vienna was established in his memory by his daughter Rebekah, wife of Alexander *Kohut. Bettelheim left no complete scholarly work but he wrote many articles on art, medicine, and other subjects and some of his notes and suggestions were incorporated into Kohut's Arukh. His son, fÉlix albert bettelheim (1861–1890), a physician, also moved to the United States and initiated the establishment of the first hospital in Panama, serving as head physician between 1883 and 1889.


M. Davis, Emergence of Conservative Judaism (1963), 329–31.

[Jack Reimer]