Skip to main content

Bloch, Joseph Samuel


BLOCH, JOSEPH SAMUEL (1850–1923), rabbi, publicist, and politician in Austria. He acquired distinction for his defense of Judaism against the *blood libel and was praised by Adolf *Jellinek as the "Hercules of the antisemitic Augean stables." Son of a poor baker in Dukla (east Galicia), Bloch attended yeshivot at Lemberg and Eisenstadt and then the universities of Munich and Zurich. After officiating in provincial communities, he became rabbi of the Vienna suburb of Floridsdorf and a teacher at Jellinek's bet ha-midrash. During the *Tisza-Eszlár blood libel trial in 1883, when August *Rohling undertook to attest on oath that Jews practiced ritual murder, Bloch attacked him in the press. He challenged Rohling's competence as a scholar, accused him of lying, and offered him 3,000 florins for translating a random page of the Talmud. Rohling was forced to sue Bloch for libel, but after two years' investigations withdrew his action 13 days before the trial was due to open.

Bloch was elected in 1884, 1885, and 1891 to the Austrian Parliament from a preponderantly Jewish constituency of Galicia, and was the first parliamentarian to make Jewish affairs his main political concern, regarding himself as an interpreter and defender of Jewish thought to the non-Jewish public. In 1884 he founded a weekly, Dr. Blochs Oesterreichische Wochenschrift, for combating antisemitism, which existed until after World War i, and also established the *Oesterreichisch-Israelitische Union (from 1921: Union deutsch-oesterreichischer Juden). He also lectured in Social Democratic associations on social conditions in the time of Jesus. Bloch was guided in his political activities by Adolf *Fischhof. He developed a previously unknown militancy and Jewish awareness which brought him into conflict with other Jewish leaders in Austria. In Der nationale Zwist und die Juden in Oesterreich (1886) he asked Jews to remain neutral in the struggle of the various nationalities within the Hapsburg Empire and to consider themselves "Austrian Jews" and "Jewish Austrians." He thus supplied the ideology for the Hapsburg patriotism with which the majority of Jews in the realm associated themselves around the beginning of the 20th century. Bloch saw the struggle for Jewish rights as part of the fight for the principle of equality for all nationalities in the empire, which the monarchy would have to recognize in order to exist. He also initiated proceedings against further ritual murder accusations by Franz Deckert and Paulus *Meyer and was active during the *Hilsner case.

At first a supporter of Zionism and Theodor *Herzl, Bloch published one of Herzl's articles in 1896 and introduced him to the finance minister, Bilinski. However, Bloch preferred the concept of "colonization-Zionism," regarded Jewish nationality as closely linked with the Jewish religion, and refused to close his paper to non-Zionists. Herzl, on the other hand, failed to appreciate Bloch's fight against antisemitism. By around 1900 Bloch had become alienated from the Zionists. He visited Ereẓ Israel before his death.

For his work in the Jewish cause Bloch was warmly received on visits to the United States in 1912, and again in 1920. During World War i he raised funds on behalf of the Austrian government in neutral countries. He published a compendium of apologetics, Israel und die Voelker (1922; Israeland the Nations, 1927), based on the evidence of the experts in connection with the Rohling trial, and his memoirs Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (1922; My Reminiscences, 1927). He also wrote prolifically on Jewish lore.


M. Grunwald, in: Festschrift des juedischtheologischen Seminars Breslau, 2 (1929), 1–12; L. Kolb, in: Dr. Blochs Wochenschrift (Nov. 20, 1920), in honor of his 70th birthday; Ch. Bloch, in: Herzl Yearbook, 1 (1958), 154–64; J. Fraenkel (ed.), Jews of Austria (1967), index; M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), 433–57; W.J. Cahnman, in: ylbi, 4 (1959), 111–39 and passim.

[Meir Lamed]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bloch, Joseph Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 16 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Bloch, Joseph Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (March 16, 2019).

"Bloch, Joseph Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved March 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.